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6 Ways to Make More Time for Blogging & Writing

As a homeschooling mom of five children, I pour out my heart and soul into my children each day. After teaching at home for close to ten years, I’ve gradually realized it’s not healthy for me or even good for my children if I continually focus all my time and energy completely on them.

The fact is when we give of ourselves day-in and day-out, always pouring out but never filling up, we eventually find ourselves drained, going through the motions, and maybe even ready to give up. Yes, the role of motherhood (and fatherhood!) entails sacrifice at the very core. We would gladly and willingly lay down our lives for our children.

However, we need to find ways to fill ourselves back up. We can’t keep on giving when there’s nothing left. Our children and spouses can see when we’re frazzled and empty. They feel the effects of it. Not only do we suffer for our burnout, they do too.

We need to take some time to rejuvenate, recharge, and refresh so that we have what it takes to keep on going for the long haul. Of course there are countless ways to fill ourselves back up (exercising, gardening, baking, sewing, etc.). But over the years, I’ve learned that for me, writing is one of the best ways I can refuel.

In fact, over the past five years I’ve completed four full-length novels. The first book The Preacher’s Bride released last fall 2010 (through Bethany House Publishers). Another book, The Doctor’s Lady just released this month. And I'm currently doing in-house editing on the book that will release next year.

One of the questions I’m asked the most is, “How do you find time to write AND homeschool five children? How do you balance everything?”

I have to admit, it’s not easy to juggle the growing responsibilities of published author life and homeschooling. But . . . writing and blogging help fill up my tank. The creative process of writing brings me renewed energy.

Writing is a gift, an outlet, a way to connect with others in a similar situation, a way to pull thoughts together, an opportunity to minister to others, encourage, and uplift. Ultimately, writing and blogging can be so much more than a public journal—they can be a way to bless others.

But how do we make time to write and blog with all of the other demands on our time?

Here are six techniques I use to juggle writing/blogging and all my other responsibilities:

1. Schedule writing time. We need to pencil into our daily planner our writing time the same way we schedule subjects into a school day. I block out a little bit of time in the morning before my family awakens. I also carve out time in the afternoons when I’m done with all my teaching.

2. Prioritize our activities. We can’t do everything, even the really worthwhile activities. When we fill our lives so full of going here and there, we risk losing the creativity that comes from “down time.” We need those hours, even days, when we have the freedom to be home and just create. (And quite frankly, our kids need to be “bored” too, because boredom breeds creativity.)

3. Don’t wait for the perfect moment. Otherwise we won’t ever write. My afternoon writing time begins after my kids are done with school, when they’re noisy, energetic, and just being kids. That means my writing time is often full of interruptions and chaos. But I write anyway! (And use headphones!)

4. Plan alone, extended and uninterrupted writing for once a week, if possible. Because of the less than ideal writing conditions the rest of the week, I make a point of taking extended writing time on the weekends or during an evening. Extended time allows us critical focused alone time.

5. Get your family behind your writing. Even though my afternoons are less-than-ideal for writing, I still try to teach my children to respect my writing time. When I take it seriously, they’re more apt to follow suit. If we explain to our husbands the importance of refueling ourselves, we can enlist their support as well.

6. Eradicate the guilt. Realize that when we’re pursuing something we love, we’re modeling to our children that they too can pursue their passions, and that learning, being creative, and expressing ourselves never ends.

What about you? Are you taking the time to refuel and refresh yourself on a regular basis? Do you ever feel guilty for spending time doing things you love?

*I originally wrote this post for Jamie Martin at Simple Homeschool blog.

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21 comments:

  1. This post really hit home. Since school started this year, I've struggled to work in writing time. It might have something to do with the fact that my husband is now working from home. (a blessing and a curse) I just haven't tweaked my schedule to fit everything in. Thanks for the encouragement, Jody.

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  2. I am beyond impressed. If you can do all that, surely I can find a way, too. I do carve out time to write; the harder part for me is finding time to blog. But I think I need to work harder at scheduling time for it!

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  3. I love that you said you teach children to respect your writing time. Me too!
    I think my boys need to understand that life is not all about them and that Mommy is involved in something for herself because she believes it is something God gave her to do. I want my boys to see me using my abilities and going after my goals. I hope they will want to go after their own goals too.

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  4. As a parent, writing gave my purpose beyond parenting. I never neglected my kids but I also didn't need to play Legos for three hours!

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  5. Good morning, everyone! I agree with your thoughts. As parents we can go to the extreme of putting an unhealthy focus on our children and becoming child-centered in our parenting. So I think when we have other things we focus on (besides playing legos for 3 hours!), it helps establish some boundaries for our children too. Thanks for chiming in everyone!

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  6. The distraction issue is huge. I spent all summer longing for the schoolyear to start again (I don't homeschool), but changes in my daughter's early-childhood special ed meant that I actually LOST writing time instead of gained it, and even that has been eaten up by teaching gigs and doctor appointments and all manner of nonsense. Like a toddler who has just learned to talk, and WILL NOT BE QUIET. How can I concentrate on putting words together with him offering a monotone running commentary on what color he's using, and asking permission to draw?

    I'm a firm believer in the value of momentum. But momentum requires some concentrated time & effort to get rolling. The fragmentation of my time has been a real frustration lately.

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  7. I definitely agree with ditching the guilt. Writing and blogging is a fulfilling endeavor to me as well and not making time for yourself doesn't do a bit of good for anyone in your life. I also think that making your family and friends aware of when writing time is can be helpful, that way they know exactly what your plans are and don't think you've just wandered off :)

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  8. I think you literally just read my mind. How did you do that??

    My last blog post was about how I've just tried to let go of the guilt. Hard to do, but worth it.

    I needed this post to boost me up. Thanks Jody!

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  9. #3 has saved my writing life for sure, because there is no perfect time when you have young kids, a household to run, a day job to attend, etc. I write on the fly all the time -- I carry a notebook with me, and have been known to jot ideas at stoplights and even start blog posts in the 10 minutes or so while I wait to pick up my kids from school. Doctor's offices are also a great time to jot thoughts. It's not perfect writing or circumstances, but it's enough to get the ball rolling later when I actually sit down at the computer to write.

    GREAT post, Jody -- how do you ALWAYS knock 'em out of the park?!

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  10. I'm having conflicting thoughts about your blog today. I'm not sure if it's because I regret how I've handled my time management lately or just the fact that I haven't been able to control my time management lately because of family emergency, weather, and travel.

    You make excellent points and I'm almost positive that it's taken you a good amount of time and trial-and-error to implement them all. The question I have for you is.. are there times that you just have to let something go and decide what's more important? Obviously, your family is more important than your writing, so I'm sure that you've had your share of sacrifices over the years..

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  11. When do you clean and cook I'd like to know? That's my trouble--after I home-school for the day, there always seems to be laundry pending and kids that need to go somewhere. Do you just put it all off until you complete your writing time? And speaking of, what do you do about kids' afternoon activities???? And blogging? Yikes! How do you do it? I know, these are the questions you've already attempted to answer. It's just that there are only 7 days in the week, and each afternoon seems already so full. And what do you do when you have the urge to take a nap instead of writing? ;)

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  12. Thanks Jody for the jewel of wisdom- I have 7 children (our youngest has downs syndrome) and I've home schooled for over 25 years now- I struggled with guilt about balancing priorities most of those years but always knew I needed creative outlet. Being a pastor's wife, I channeled my creative juices through worship, directing and writing Christmas programs and now finally, I feel I have some "nuggets" to share and encourage others, so I've started blogging and writing. Thanks for sharing your insights!

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  13. Kathleen asked: How can I concentrate on putting words together with him offering a monotone running commentary on what color he's using, and asking permission to draw?

    My thoughts: Hi Kathleen, I can relate to your frustration. Somedays, the interruptions can be very frustrating. It's on those days, that I have to sit back and re-evaluate my schedule and look for a time to write when I can have fewer interruptions. Maybe that's an hour or two in the evening when hubby is home to watch the children. Maybe that means writing before the kids get up. Or maybe that means making sure my kids have "quiet time" in their rooms for an hour. I think it's important for us from time to time to stop and figure out what time of the day we can best maximize our writing time. Hugs! I know it's hard!

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  14. Katers asked: Are there times that you just have to let something go and decide what's more important? Obviously, your family is more important than your writing, so I'm sure that you've had your share of sacrifices over the years.

    My thoughts: Oh yes, I recently had a family emergency, and I had to take almost a whole week off of writing to help a family member. My family's needs definitely come first. On the other hand, there are times when my writing demands increase (like when I'm doing rewrites). Then I have to spend a little more time on my writing. So, yes sometimes we'll have to give more energy to family and other times more to our writing. We will have to do some juggling.

    And as you may already know, I did take a long break from writing for many years in order to focus completely on my family. And that was okay too. But now that I'm back into my writing, I really see it as a gift--a way to refill and recharge.

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  15. Jill asked: Do you just put it all off until you complete your writing time? And speaking of, what do you do about kids' afternoon activities???? And blogging? Yikes! How do you do it?

    My thoughts: Jill, I couldn't do all that I do without the help of my kids and my husband. My husband helps a LOT (with running errands and taking kids to activities). Friends help with running my kids around too. And my kids are old enough to help with chores. So, no, I couldn't do it all if everything were on my shoulders. I've learned to let go of having to do it all, and have learned to delegate!

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  16. I walk a thin line between over-committed and 'just right'. Still wish I had more hours in the day preferably in the evening!

    Great post Jody!

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  17. I'm just starting out and really enjoyed your piece. At the moment I am only blogging as I have a nearly 4 year old son who is at preschool four mornings per week. Next year he starts school so I will be taking a writing course and giving more attention to writing at that point. Even so, there are things I can do now, from your list, to help find time to write at the moment. Thanks for the ideas. Polly.

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  18. Hi Polly,

    So glad the post resonated and that you can find a few things from it that can help you! I always love when that happens! Thanks for stopping by! :-)

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  19. Time management. I like the part about not waiting for the perfect moment. When you get the urge, go ahead and write.

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  20. Your post is heartening. My children are grown and I also have such a busy life with many interests. I've had to carve out time and not pay attention to the guilts that rear their ugly little heads despite my having no reason for them. I must have been born with them. Congratulations on what seems to be a very successful writing life. Thanks for this thoughtful post

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