As you may know, I recently became a mom. My little baby is now about a year and a half old. Time flies! As I write for people like me, I’m betting some of our readers are working parents, too. How does one find the time to write when they have a non-writing day job and a toddler? Between the 8 hours of work, the floor that needs swept, the laundry to hang, the kid to feed, the sink to clean (how long has that ring been there? *gasps in horror*), the 7 hours of sleep you’re supposed to get – writing time fits in where?
I’ve edited and revised a novel (with My coauthor) and started writing another novel all during the pandemic and working and taking care of the wee hobbit. What works for one person may not always work for another but I’ll share what is working for me in hopes that it helps you at least get some ideas to try. And now, the guide!
Make it Known
Make sure your partner, significant other, family, (even friends) know how important writing is for you and how precious those few opportunities to craft and create are. I have one hour of interrupted time weekly where my husband takes the toddler out of the house while I write with J. My husband knows I love writing. And that my writing is just as important as his time to work out. We’ve also budgeted to allow money for me to pay for editing just as we have budgeted to allow for us both to run races. Find what works but get that respect for your art and your time! Don’t answer mom’s call in the middle of your protected time to write (make sure she knows for next time).
You’ve heard of power naps. A short duration but can pack your body with much needed energy. I give you power writing. We all have these tiny blocks of time through the day. (Do you take your phone into the bathroom to browse social media on the toilet? Hey I’m not judging). Can you use more of them for writing? Plot a scene, write a scene, create a character bio, heck just get in any words. You’ll find they add up when you stay focused on using that time to write. Are you reaching for your phone to check Twitter? Try to redirect that energy even if it means researching steam power for your steampunk novel (hey, that’s me!). For a while now I’ve been able to kick out paragraphs during my 15 min breaks at work. I work through my lunch and write during my lunch break. I have about an hour after the toddler goes to sleep to do things so I’ll squeeze in another 15 after some chores are done. I definitely need to take my own advice and start limiting that time suck social media.
Tagging on to that last section, you don’t have to sacrifice all of your free time to writing. Maybe you want to and can. But I find that I need other diversions to fuel my creativity and re-energize me. Plus your family wants you to be a part of life. Don’t get so focused on churning out word counts every free moment. That can lead to burn out and fast. I’ll play a little bit of a video game here, watch a bit of a show there. I was watching a comedy drama and it really sparked some witty banter in my own written dialog. Just because you aren’t writing doesn’t mean you aren’t getting benefits from the things you are doing. And some nights I just have to get the laundry done and don’t have time to write. Or we go to a park with our son and come home only to fall in bed. And that’s ok. Tell yourself that your priority of the moment is exactly what it needs to be. Because it is.
Be Forgiving to Yourself
You’re not perfect. You’re writing isn’t blemish free. Free yourself of too many expectations. We all make mistakes. In life and in writing. Don’t stress over the perfect sentence structure, not ending with prepositions, or whatever writing rules you read about in some famous person’s book. Just write! You can fix it later (hello, editor). And as a parent, try not to create some sort of perfect vision of the perfect parent. You will mess up. Learn, grow, apologize where needed, and know that yep that bedroom has not been vacuumed in weeks and it is ok. You actually are perfect. You are enough. You are the perfect parent to your little one. And they just need you as you, flaws and all. We’re given one life to live, so let’s make the best one we can.
Wherever you are in your writing or parenting journey, I wish you the best in balancing! It’s hard, but so worth it. And if you’re like me, tell me what’s working well for your writing with wee ones.
(FYI moms who take care of their kids all day are working moms, too. I just have an “office” job)
Originally posted at my coauthor site 10/27/20