The Sacrifices Writers Make in Order to Have Writing Time

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

As a mom of five children, I'm often asked how I do it. How do I find time to manage my busy household, homeschool, AND write?

There are lots of writers who work day jobs, have families, and try to eke out writing careers. And I'm no different. I teach during the day, juggle family responsibilities, and write whenever I can.

Like any other person trying to balance dual careers or multiple responsibilities, I’ve had to look for ways to have a writing career alongside everything else. Of course there are numerous ways I try handle it all: I simplify home life, enlist help from my family, and stick to a strict writing schedule.

Even so, there are plenty of days where I struggle to find writing time. The truth is, no matter what we do, we won't find more time . . . unless we make sacrifices.

Yes, those who juggle multiple responsibilities have to make tough sacrifices in order to have writing time. We can't add writing to our already full plates without taking something away. Otherwise we risk burnout. And we risk mediocrity because it becomes difficult to do anything well when we spread ourselves too thin.

Over the years, here are just a few of the things I've given up in part or whole in order to make time for writing:

1. Sacrifice social activities. I choose social engagements very sparingly. There are always numerous things going on in my community, church, and circles of friends. But I have to say no more than I say yes. I reserve most of my socializing for when I go to my kids' activities.

2. Sacrifice housework. I still try to maintain some semblance of order in my home. And I require everyone who lives in the house to help with the housework. That's only common courtesy and good practice. My husband even does the grocery shopping. But I have to admit, I hired a cleaning lady last year. At this season in my life, paying for help has been worth it.

3. Sacrifice TV. I don't watch much TV. It helps that we don't have cable. Even with a few basic channels and Netflix, it's still all too tempting to turn on the TV. But I work hard at limiting the amount of time our TV is on, even for my kids.

4. Sacrifice hobbies. There are many things I enjoy like gardening, scrapbooking, and doing crafts. But one by one, my hobbies have fallen to the side (unless I do them with one of my kids).

5. Sacrifice outside commitments. I don't commit to many responsibilities outside my family. I don't coach sports teams. I don't teach Sunday school. And I don't serve on any committees or boards. At this point in my life, I'm using my gift of writing to serve others. I don't allow myself to be guilted into taking on more.

6. Sacrifice fellowship. Notice I said fellowship, not friendship. I still value my friends dearly. And most of my closest friends understand that I have less time in my life for getting together, and they support me anyway. But the fact is, I don't often have the luxury of going out for coffee with friends or having families over for dinner.

So what haven't I sacrificed? I try not to sacrifice spending time with my family. I still go to my kid's activities and games (even if it means writing less). I haven't sacrificed my own spiritual, emotional, or physical care. In fact, I even added running to my weekly schedule.

Of course there are many things that remain constant in my life. But as my writing career has progressed, I've had to give up a lot in order to fit in the time I need to write. The bottom line is that I don't have much free time.

I'm not sure if I'll always need to make so many sacrifices. My hope is that one day I can add back in some of the things I've cut out! But for now, the sacrifices are worth the opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream and desire to write novels.

Writers, what are some sacrifices you've had to make to find more writing time?

And readers, what do you sacrifice in order to do the things you love?


  1. Thank you, Jody! I have been sucked into the trap of being guilted to do things. Since I am still unpublished, my friends and extended family see my writing as a funny little hobby, instead of the career that I feel God is leading me into. They don't understand the time and energy it takes to write, stay at home with a two year old, teach children's church, play in the community band. Too often I'm asked to do extra. These are all good things to do, but not the best thing for me. And I have a terrible time saying no. You're post is very timely for me at this juncture as I'm up to my eyebrows in rewrites, and trying to get my manuscript ready so I can seek agent representation.

  2. Like you, Jody, I have a packed schedule. Day-job, twin babies, a third on the way. My wife needs help around the house as she's pregnant again and has mobility issues anyway. And that's without getting into writing, promotion, or any social activities.

    My friends realise that I have to prioritise my time, and I can't do all the things I'd like anymore.

    Writing (along with the associated editing and promotion work) and my children come first. After that (at a very close second) comes spending quality time with my wife, who is about the most patient and understanding person I could ever hope to know. She knows that I find it calming to get a little extra writing done in the evenings if I can, so it makes her happy to see me do that. But we make sure to take time to watch a movie or talk as much as we can.

    After that comes all the other bits and pieces. I tend to make time for different things at different times, to try and vary things up. I still manage to have my weekly gaming group, though I've stepped down from running games at least until after Silent Oath's launch month is out of the way.

  3. Interesting post!! My current conundrum is finding a way to write, stay active in life {since right now I need those things to foster writing fodder!} AND keep up the scrapbooking. I realize that last one may seem like a no-brainer to give up for most writers, but it's the one thing I still do regularly that is a stress reliever - and for both my husband and me, it's important to archive our own marriage story. Scrapbooking is how I do it. In the end, I sacrifice sleep - because I don't know what else to give up! :)

  4. My relatives often ask me to do things for them, like take care of their dogs or run errands for them or help them with other things. Usually I say yes. I realized, though, that it was leaving me with a lot less time to do my own work. They thought that since I did most of my work at home that I had more free time. It wasn't true, though; I had the same amount of time that they did, and I needed to learn how to say no sometimes in order to get my work done.

  5. I'm very glad to give up housework! I rush through it and do tiny bits and pieces of it as necessary. Some friends really don't understand when I can't do as many social activities as I used to.

    I scrapbook, too, but I haven't done that in ages! I'm starting to miss it. I really want to take some time to work on some pages soon. It's a stress reliever for me, too.

  6. Great post, Jody. I, too, homeschool and write, and I know what you're talking about--if people ask about hobbies I just laugh. Yes, I like puttering around in flowerbeds and the garden, but when I'm working on a book, everything else bites the dust (yup, housework too!). After putting in a lot of time with church/homeschool activities when my kids were small, I feel like this is the time of my life when I have to buckle down and make writing my career (un-lucrative as that plan has been so far). Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone in my tendency to say "no" to activities instead of "yes!"

  7. Excellent post! We all have to decide what's important. For me, I've had to put down so many time consuming activities. And, by the way, what's TV? I was asked recently if I watched some night time drama and I had to say sorry, I don't have time.
    But last week I did set aside time to read a new author. I always try to do that. Not only does it help them, but it helps me stay in tune.
    I'm glad I'm not the only one who loses, but gains.

  8. Hi Everyone! Thank you all for sharing some of what you've had to sacrifice. I think it's going to look different for each of us based on our priorities. But most of us are going to have to make sacrifices of some kind in order to write!

    Just to clarify, I do still feel that personal health and well-being is very important. And if certain activities are relaxing and important to your health, then I don't think you should sacrifice those things. Find something else that can go! :-)

  9. The one thing I consciously gave up was baking, and I discovered my family really liked store-bought baking just as well. My hubby bakes cookies occasionally and has become quite handy in the kitchen, so there's no guilt as a result of my decision.

  10. I 100 percent needed this. I blogged yesterday about how jealous I was of all the writers "living the dream" and wondering what was wrong with me because I can't make time to write and I don't homeschool and I have one child in school. I know there are things I've been unwilling to sacrifice and I need to evaluate what areas I can sacrifice for writing. At the same time, my husband's schedule at work keeps changing and I feel like I need stability from week to week in order to write. But maybe I just need to make time each week, even if it isn't the SAME time each week. So, thank you for a timely word and practical tips.

  11. I like point number 2. I'll gladly sacrifice housework. However it always catches up with me.

    I've found that if I make writing my first priority when I get up, even if I don't write much, I think of ideas and jot them down for the rest of the day. It keeps me engaged in the whole process.

  12. This is encouraging me to rethink my sacrifices. Thank you. As a budding novelist, I've sacrificed some piano practice time, but I can't do too much sacrificing in that area because of my role as a church musician. But the Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Beethoven have taken a back seat, and probably for the better!

  13. Just about to blog about this very subject. Thanks... some validation here.


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