"How do you make the time?"
"I'll write when my kids are older."
"Your kids must watch a ton of TV."
"I think it's neat that you have a hobby."
I hear those statements all the time and -- when I'm not at my best -- I let them make me angry. I'm going to respond in this blog post a way I never do in person: I make the time, my kids are young, they're allowed one TV show per day, and writing is a job.
Like any regular job, writing requires two things: scheduling and sacrifice. Without those two words, I would never, ever get anything written. I don't want anyone to think I have a perfect work-life balance (that's so far from the truth) but I have found ways to make writing a profession that works for me. I'll share my method if you share yours!
1. I can write anywhere, at any time. When I started writing, I couldn't get anything done unless it was quiet, my kids were sleeping/watching a show/at school. Writing when it's quiet is a luxury. I've had to teach myself how to write in short bursts. Fifteen minutes while I cook, thirty while waiting in the car at sports practice, ten between loads of laundry. Most of my writing is done at the kitchen counter, next to my stove. I probably start and stop a dozen times every day. Is it super effective? Nope. Is it what works right now? Yep. And, by the way, the constant clicking of the keys is pretty soothing to my six-week old.
2. I keep my kids busy. We have coloring time, playdough time, story time (they read to each others sometimes), toy room time, etc. I write on the deck while they play outside, and I created an office/toy area in what used to be our sunroom so I could have Princess Tea with my two-year-old, and help my bigger kids with homework and projects. Sometimes I'm awesome at mothering/writing and sometimes we end up with this:
|Eight loads of laundry on Tuesdays. I'm actually proud of this!|
4. I don't do a lot of things I want to do. I don't go out with friends very often. I don't watch TV unless I have laundry to fold (SYTYCD is on Tuesdays). I've only had one pedicure this year and I only went because it was for my sister's wedding. I only read when I'm on the elliptical or feeding my baby. These are the sacrifices I was talking about above. And they're totally worth it.
I treat writing like a real job and I always have. It's never been something I do for fun -- the fun is an awesome side-effect!
Tips that I've learned from other authors:
- Write at the gym. Sara B. Larson spends an hour working out and an hour writing, while her kids are at the child care center.
- Saturdays at Starbucks. Brigid Kemmerer gets to Starbucks as soon as it opens on Saturdays and stays there all day.
- Child Trade. I can't remember which author said it, but once a week she leaves her kids with a neighbor so she can write, and then the swap.