One of the questions I get asked most frequently is: “How do you find time to write? You homeschool and have five kids. How do you do it?”
I recently got an email from a writer mom with two young children. She said: “My first manuscript is being read by several major publishers and just awaiting their response . . . but I'm actually a bit concerned about getting my writing time in. When do you make the time to write? With all you have going on, what does your schedule look like on any given day?”
Her concern is a very real one. As we move toward publication and beyond, our writing work increases. But our other jobs and responsibilities don’t go away. Most of us can’t quit our “day jobs” whatever those might be. The reality is that a large percentage of novelists will only make part time monetary compensation for the full time work they put into writing, editing and marketing their books.
Whatever the case, writers have to learn to balance multiple roles and workloads. I’m still learning how to do that. Like many writers, I have to squeeze in writing time around other things.
On a typical day, I wake up early, long before my family arises. I try to get a jump start on the day’s writing work. Then once the kids are awake, I pack up until later in the afternoon. I generally spend about one and a half to two hours every afternoon on my WIP. Whatever word count I don’t get done during that time, I finish after the kids are in bed.
In order to make this kind of writing schedule work, here are four things I’ve had to learn how to do:
I’ve gradually scaled-back on my commitments, outside activities, and involvements. The fact is, we can’t be everywhere, doing everything, and still have time for writing. There are just WAY too many great things for our kids and families to do. But do we need to do so much? Maybe the scaling back is a blessing in disguise that can lead to a slower pace and more time at home.
In having five children, I’ve had to learn to simply life as much as possible: meals, closets, clothes, shopping, housework, etc. If we choose to live simply, we can eliminate some of the stress that comes when we buy too much, have too much, and try to do too much.
We really can’t make more writing time unless we’re willing to sacrifice. The sacrifice will look different for all of us. Maybe we’ll have to give up TV, sleep, traveling, golf, ladies’ night out, etc. Anytime we sacrifice, we experience pain and loss. In other words, the process of giving up other pleasures won’t be easy. But most of us will have to make those tough choices in order to have more writing time.
I've had to learn to rely on the support of my husband, children, and friends. Although I’m very independent, I’ve realized that I really do need the help of those around me in order to make more writing time. I involve my kids in the housework and in “babysitting” their younger siblings. And my husband helps me carve out uninterrupted writing time on Saturdays and a couple of evenings a week.
Are you juggling multiple responsibilities and trying to write? Do you struggle to find enough time to write? What are some things you do to make your writing schedule work?