By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
If you've been reading my blog long enough, you'll know that I'm a homeschooling mom of five children (although my oldest just graduated and is now in college). Like most teachers, I LOVE my summers off, especially because it allows me to spend extra time on my writing that I don't have during the school year.
My school years are filled with instructing my children as well as teaching a Grammar and Composition class for high school students. Both require a lot of time and effort (picture me most evenings grading essays that my students write!). In addition to my teaching job, I also have all of the other mom-duties that come with having large family–cooking big meals, trying not to drown in laundry, running kids to all of their many activities, etc.
As a teacher and mom, my schedule is already jam-packed. But add on to that a very full time writing job. This year I'm attempting to keep up with publishing three books with three different publishers. It's been a blast! But in addition to writing the books, it's also meant more editing, more marketing, and more administrative work.
Just recently at the start of a new school year, I sat down with my calendar and scratched my head, wondering how in the world I would be able to fit in time to write. Between school, piano lessons, art class, ballet, cross country, choir, youth group and host of other activities that are starting, I had a moment of panic.
But then, I took a deep breath and gave myself my annual pep talk, which goes something like this:
1. If you want this badly enough, you can do it. You love writing. It brings you great joy and fulfillment to weave stories. In the craziness of life, your story-world is a peaceful place to escape. So don't give up. You'd miss it too much.
2. You can find writing time each day if you look closely enough for it. You can find a hour or two. Yes, you might have to sacrifice something else to find that hour or two (like sleep or TV or baking homemade cookies). But you can find the time somewhere if you look closely enough.
3. Block out that writing time and don't waver from it. Once you find a window of opportunity to write (even if it's different every day), block it out on the calendar. Literally.
4. Be consistent even when you're tired, sick, and don't feel like writing. Of course you can't prevent emergencies. But barring a tornado or plane crashing into your home, sit your butt in the chair and write.
5. Look for ways to get extended writing time. You need those longer chunks of time too. Work with your significant other, parents, grandparents, or friend to take the kids or watch the dogs so that you can have a writing day or writing weekend (even if it's just once a month).
6. Demote social media and other non-essential to the leftover time. Yes, social media is fun. Yes, it's a great way to mingle with other writers. But it's a non-essential to a successful writing career. Keep it in its proper place and perspective.
7. Yes, it will be hard. But you've written under crazy circumstances in the past and you can do it again.
For all those writers who have day jobs or who are balancing busy children or who are struggling to stay consistent, my pep talk is for you too. There are seasons in our lives when finding writing time can be a huge challenge. You don't have to give up. If I can make it work, so can you!
How about YOU? Do you ever struggle to find writing time? What do you tell yourself to keep going?
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