|Me and my kids, 8 years ago!|
I don't have a perfect formula, but I'll share my writing process and how I try to balance priorities with kids. This post has caused me to reflect back many years, as my kids are now in 10th and 7th grades.
In no special order, here are 10 tips or behaviors that help me stay on top of my writing.
1. Deadlines & Support
When my kids were ages 6 and 3, I started writing. While my daughter was at school, I wrote when my son was occupied with his toys, nap time, etc...I started writing for the educational market as a freelance writer. This meant I had deadlines. And deadlines meant I needed to write. period. My husband helped out with the kids, taking them to the park or entertaining them so I could write peacefully without interruptions. And sometimes, I needed my kids to help me develop crafts for educational sites.
Paper & Pen All the Time
I kept a small notebook and pen in my purse. When I took the kids to the park, I carried a bag with a big notebook and pen. While they played, I wrote. And oftentimes, their play was my inspiration. I used every minute--waiting at a restaurant, riding in the car, riding on the subway. I thought and planned through stories.
By solitude, I mean, being the ONLY one. As most of you know, I'm in another country, hardly speak the language, and so I don't go out as often as I would if I were home in the states. So that pretty much confines me to my office. I don't meet up with a lot of friends like I would if I were in the states. I think that has made a difference in the time I'm able to commit to writing. I'm not suggesting you need to move across the world to get writing time in, but limiting social outings does enable you to get more accomplished.
Order In or Go Out
One awesome thing about South Korea is that you can order anything, and it arrives via motorcycle--KFC, pizza, McDonalds, noodles, soup. So when I'm on a tight deadline, I don't cook. We either order out or go out. If I cook, the whole ordeal can take 1.5-2 hours because Korean cooking is a lot of chopping and marinating. I try to plan ahead sometimes and have meals prepared, but it doesn't always work for me. I'm not skilled in this area. And sometimes, my wonderful husband has supper ready when I come home :)
I would be totally lost without my lists. I have notepads or Post Its that I list things that need to be written or accomplished for the day. Boy, does it feel good to cross something out. And for a writer who needs to be serious, it plans your day so you don't need to waste time thinking about what you're supposed to do. I know some writers have a writing calendar and schedule what needs to be done.
BIC & Stay on Task
You all probably know Jane Yolen's famous BIC, "butt in chair," wisdom. It's true. You don't get writing accomplished if you don't sit down. But taking it even further from a teacher aspect (I'm also a teacher), means you have to "stay on task." That's one behavior I have to grade my students on. How much do we writers stay on task without peeking at our email, notifications on Facebook or Twitter? So if I'm crunched for time, I let those things be my REWARDS for good behavior. Even today, I had horrendous revisions on my novel. I was BIC for 8 hours. (It's Saturday.) I critiqued a manuscript for a critique partner, then revised for the next hour and a half. Then I did a load of laundry and called family in Iowa. (You have to give your eyes rest periods. And that's how housework gets done!) After revising two chapters, I gave myself the reward of checking Facebook and email. Hubby took me to lunch--there's that no cooking thing. After that I wrote all afternoon with a 20 minute nap in the middle, more laundry, and more revising until my kids came home from a basketball tournament in Seoul at 6 pm.
I don't watch TV here. Frankly, I don't know what they're saying, and if there is a program in English, I'm not interested, nor do I have the time to watch it until school vacations.
Keep Priorities Straight
I've learned the hard way that it's important to keep priorities. For me, God must come first before I open my email. I spend quiet time reading the Bible and praying. I know others of you do similar things or meditate. Second, my family comes next. It's very easy for me to put work ahead of my family, and that's something I have to constantly work on. If my kids have a home volleyball or basketball game, I'm there. And if my husband planned something for us or with his dad, I'm there. I just have to be flexible and work around it. And since I also work full-time as many of you do, we have to use our time wisely, which is why I spent my entire Saturday revising my novel for my agent. It's impossible to do on weeknights when I'm groggy. Speaking of weeknights, I do write after supper. I have to. I have three educational clients. Thankfully, the work evens out so things aren't due at the same time.
Being in three critique groups also keeps me on my toes. I'm critiquing throughout the week but even better, I have to work on my own WIP to send to them when it's my turn. This is excellent training for BIC.
Need I say more? :)
Actually, I will. Eating chocolate means I need to exercise. While riding my exercise bike, I listen to writerly podcasts or catch up on blog posts about writing because I'm still learning. #killing2birdswith1stone
And at the end of the day, I still tuck my kiddos in bed and kiss them goodnight. I write in my thankful journal and go to bed. Yes, I do have pen and paper nearby.
|Mother's Day 2017|
You can find me at tinamcho.com, @TinaMCho