Making Time To Write
If you are like me, your list of what’s going on in your life is a mile long. Just right now, I’m renovating my house on a shoestring budget. My husband is working out of town all week. I’ve been so lucky that he’s always helped with household tasks and childcare in a big way, so his absence is putting an extra strain on what I have to do. I am teaching full-time, taking care of two kids. I’m also writing.
I’m not complaining. I feel totally and utterly blessed.
In fact, I’ll bet if you asked anyone you know their list is probably at least as long as mine, if not longer. And likely more stressful. I realize I’m not the only one who experiences life stresses.
But it’s how we choose to respond to that stress that affects our dreams. If you are like me, your dream is to work as a writer. A published one.
But how do you write if you also have to work a day job to support that writing dream?
How do you make time to write when you have multiple other responsibilities pulling at you?
Acknowledge the Season of Your Life
If you are in the season of life where you are moving, raising kids, and working full-time, then this is your current reality.
If your kids are in college and you cannot quit your day job, then this is your current reality.
If you are cobbling together part-time jobs that take up more time than a full-time job, then this is your current reality.
If you are the caregiver of an aging parent, then this is your current reality.
It does us no good to say: “If I only had ______________.” Some situations are changeable, but some are not. I wouldn’t want to get rid of my kids. I made a decision to have them, and I daily make a decision on how to be involved in their lives.
One thing about seasons is that they don’t last forever. My kids are still very young, but even in their short lives my writing schedule and process has changed as their schedules and needs have changed.
Push Yourself Without Pushing Yourself Over the Edge
I am a Type-A, highly motivated person. One of my pitfalls is taking on more than I can handle. I like to stay busy and I like to have things to work toward.
But sometimes, I forget to “acknowledge my season” and I do things that push myself right over the edge. Sometimes my husband, my mom, and my friends can see it coming long before I can.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if you are saying you have NO time to write, I would argue that isn’t true. You may not have as much time as someone else, but you do have some time. However, there is a line that goes from not doing as much as you could to pushing yourself over the edge.
Again, acknowledge for yourself: Do I need to push myself more? Or Do I need to back off and not push myself over the edge?
Write Despite Your Busy Life
Schedule a write-in for yourself.
Pick a weekend. It might be only a few times a year that you can manage this. Set aside that time to write. But prepare carefully. You will need to do some prep work ahead of time to make that weekend effective. For instance, set aside a particular project to work on and make a list of specific tasks you plan to do on that weekend.
Pack a bag.
Whenever I have a crazy mom-taxi kind of day, I have a friend who always asks me, “Did you pack your bag?” She knows me so well. Yes, I always pack a writing bag. A bag with my laptop, a notebook, pens, and some piece of a work in progress. It might be something to read on a hard copy and mark up. It might be chapters that I need to write. It might be research that I am going to read and organize.
Set small goals.
Break down your task into manageable tasks. For instance, writing a book as a whole project can be overwhelming to think about. Divide the big task into manageable 15 or 30 min. tasks. It does take prep work, but it can be done.
Do Not Compare Yourself to Other Writers
I think this is one of the hardest things that I struggle with. I cannot go at the pace of some writers I know. I've been writing a long time, sometimes with little progress. But I know without a doubt that I am better writer now that I was a year ago. I can only concentrate on ME and how I can take MY writing to the next level.
Find a Non-Writing Task to Feed Your Writing
I am Type A and driven, but I also know there are times in our lives when things happen that are so emotionally taxing that we can’t write. It has happened to me and I’m sure that it’s happened to many writers I know. What can you do? You can engage in activities that feed your writer’s soul.
As a young mom who reads to her son every night, I utilize this time to soak in good books. My snuggle time is also my research time. I write picture books and reading dozens of them a week does feed me as a writer.
Listen to books on audio.
If I’m traveling or spending time in the car, I always listen to podcasts and audiobooks. If my kids are going to be in the car with me, we listen to middle grade novels. Again, it feeds me as a writer.
Books I Recommend
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Time to Write by Kelly L. Stone
For my other posts on Making Time to Write, click here.
Do it For Yourself
What is that writing project that you have been meaning to work on? Break it down into small chunks to work on it for 15-20 minutes a day. Don't say "It's not enough time." Try it (and read about one how author did it). After a month, you WILL see progress.
What are you going to do to make time to write in 2015? Tell us in the comments below.