Are you struggling to balance work, family life, and writing time? Join the club. As a freelance editor, I edit manuscripts in the day, and I’m a superhero mom/wife at night. With the extra-curricular activities my twins are involved in, my husband and I sometimes drown in all the running around we have to do. But, writers know if we don’t make time for our writing, it won’t get done. The pages won’t write themselves. Unfortunately.
Some people get up early or stay up late to get writing time in. I would love to do that, but my mind and body would forever hate me. They hold grudges against me when I stay up an extra hour over the weekend. My body makes me pay for it when I exercise at the gym and can barely lift the weight for my warm-up set.
I had to come up with a system that worked for me. One that didn’t involve sleep deprivation. I had enough of that when the twins were first born, and I don’t plan on reliving those times.
The first thing I did was give myself permission to write a crappy first draft. Not easy when my editorial hat seems glued to my head. But, I managed. I wrote a fantastically awful first draft. Instead of focusing on how I would never want anyone to see those pages, I celebrated in the fact that I had a draft. The story was written. Sort of. Now, I could go back, add details, and make changes to ensure everything works.
The other thing I did was remove the misconception that I had to write for long periods of time. Thinking that way only blocked me because I don’t have that luxury very often. But, once I tossed that idea out the window, I was actually able to get more writing done than before with less time available. Why? Because when I had those few minutes, I HAD to focus. So, I’d print off the last scene I’d written and bring it to the gym. I don’t use machines at the gym. I lift weights with the boys (and two other women). The program I’m on requires a rest period of 2-3 minutes between sets. Instead of sitting there on my phone, I review my previous scene and write bits of the next one on paper. Or, I might bring a chapter to revise in between sets. Either way, I’m getting my writing time in without taking away from work or family.
Of course, I find other times during the day to write as well. I can’t rely on my gym time alone. But, I use the same process, knowing that every minute counts, and that a story will get written a few minutes at a time.
How do you get your writing time in? What works for you?