|Don't let the cuteness fool you!|
The number one question I get when I talk about my writing it how I manage to write books (I'm starting #7 right now) with two small children at home. The truth of the matter is that I'm not entirely sure myself. There's a lot of juggling involved and prioritizing my various roles in life. Some days, I do a pretty good job of keeping snotty noses wiped and sandwich crusts cut off and favorite outfits clean. Other days, not so much. What I'm saying is that I am totally unqualified to tell ANYONE how to parent or write or anything really. But what I can do is tell you some of the things that have worked for me.
First, nap time is sacred. Could by 3.5-year-old give up the afternoon nap? Maybe. Would he sleep better at night if he did? Probably. But I am not functional in the morning and my nights are when I get to see my husband, fold laundry and occasionally watch a few minutes of TV (more on that later). Nap time is when I do the vast majority of my writing. I am incredibly rigid about the kids going down. We don't go out when it will keep them from napping. We turn off phones and shut off the lights and close the blackout curtains. I can usually guarantee at least 30 minutes with them both sleeping, so once they're out, it's go time. I'd like to say I'm disciplined enough to write a couple hundred words a day, but sometimes I'm just not. On a good day, I can write 400-600 words in 30 minutes. On a bad day, it's closer to 100. But I always write.
|And then sometimes they'll only sleep on me...|
Downtime is opportunity time. My daughter is (still) breastfed and my son has a hard time falling asleep, so I spend a lot of time in the rocking chair in their room. A supermom might spend that time enjoying her wee ones and lovingly gazing into their eyes. I write. Maybe I'm a terrible mom for that, but I tend to fall asleep if I don't do something to keep my brain awake and I've discovered they go to sleep faster if I ignore them. Cruel? Maybe, but I give them my attention at other times. Sitting in the dark at 3am, whispering "hush" for the millionth time, I don't think they care what I'm doing. I brainstorm, I make notes in Evernote on my phone, I do research, I keep up with social media. It's not my best writing time as I think better when I can type with both hands, but it gets me more time than I've have otherwise. Basically, if I'm sitting, I'm writing, tweeting, answering emails, or something related to my career as a writer.
Free time? What free time? Aside from the usual wife/mom/homemaker duties, I also work from home as a grant writer and am actively involved with my church and neighborhood moms group. My husband works 50 hour+ a week and is usually gone until after 8pm. Aside from my sister (who is totally awesome by the way and makes the best doughnuts EVER), I have no family in the state, so I am on my own. I'm busy, even without the writing career. To make it all fit, I seldom go out. Now, I'm an introvert, so this works for me. My more social counterparts really should not attempt this. Anyway, I don't go out with girl friends. I don't go to movies. I've been on a couple dates with my husband recently, but those are rare. I watch so little TV that I haven't stayed current with a single show this season. My DVR is full, but it's not something I make time for because that would mean something else would have to go and usually that thing is my writing. Frankly, I love writing more than going out, watching TV or going to the movies. I'm weird like that.
Never underestimate the power of purposeful rest. There are days (usually when the kids have been up all night) when I know it's better if I don't write. It's a conscious decision I make to preserve my own mental health. I aim to write every day to keep the habit going, but when I know I'm stretched too thin, I rest. I missed a lot of days in December thanks to the extra holiday stress, but I came back swinging and have written more in the last few days than I have in weeks. My brain is fresh and my writing is recharged. When I force it on days I don't feel okay, I end up burnt out and hating my WiP. When I give myself permission to rest, my creativity and enjoyment skyrocket. I wrote all of FALLING after an extended break from writing. I finished my first draft on top of the world. I don't think I could have written it without that break.
|But I think I'll keep them :)|
Find what works for you. I know one writer who gets up before 4am to write before her children get up. I know another who is always up past 2am. There is no right or wrong way to make time for writing, just like there's no one way to be a good parent. Some mommas (and dads for that matter) can write while their kids are awake. Some can put their kids to bed and be done with parenting until morning. I can't do either one, so I've made things work for me. Armed with a smart phone, I can (and do) take my writing everywhere. I love writing. I love telling stories and creating worlds and bringing characters to life. I love cuddling my babies and teaching them new things and watching them grow. For me, writer/momma isn't a divide. It's just who I am and who I want to be.
Any tips or tricks you've picked up to squeeze in writing (or another creative pursuit) around the stress and struggles of daily life?