Juggling Act

Very few writers start out in a position to devote eight or so hours a day to writing without distraction. Most of us have jobs, families, friends. Then we join writers groups, maybe even volunteer to help on the board or committees. We volunteer to run contests, or judge them. We cheer on the friends we make while learning to write.

And somewhere in there we must write. It’s true. You will never get published if you don’t write. Once you are published, you won’t get more contracts if you don’t meet your deadlines.

So how do you keep all your balls in the air?

You have to be honest with yourself. Prioritize. It’s something women have been learning to do from they day they decided to work and raise a family. But while you’re making your list, delegate. Let the kids help with chores and allow them to not do it perfectly. You can take over once or twice a week to bring it up to par.

When you have your list and you’ve cut back the unnecessary activities (how many minutes a day do you play on Facebook? Twitter? Read and write email?), maybe you still don’t see time to write. You’re a single parent, working fulltime, helping with homework and hauling the kids to ballet and soccer practice. There aren’t enough hours in your day.

Steal minutes. You’ve heard people tell you to get up early to write before the family stirs. That ain’t gonna happen in my life! I need that sleep for brain function. I used to write longhand on my lunch hour. One day I’d write several blog posts, another, as many words of the story as I could squeeze in.

One successful author told me she edits her manuscripts at soccer games. She’s a big seller with a New York publisher. Writing is her job. Yet she still has to make time where she can find it.

Read your work aloud while you stir the spaghetti sauce. Tell your best friend you need to meet for lunch only every other week. Schedule errands better so you hit several places in one trip, rather than one stop today, another tomorrow.

Can you take public transportation? Write and edit to your heart’s content! Just don’t read it aloud if you write erotica. You really don’t want to know your fellow riders that well.

If you think about it, you can find minutes everywhere. While you’re on hold with the cable company. Waiting a the doctor’s office.

Be proactive and make your writing the priority you would if it were your only source of income. Let family know you won’t answer the phone during certain hours a day, but you’ll return calls soon after. Sit down with your kids during homework time and scribble a few paragraphs. When you respect your time, they will too.

The more snippets of time you can find for your writing now, the sooner you can quit the day job, or pay for preschool, or make the changes needed to have your day free to write. Well, mostly free. It seems no matter how you plan it, life will find as many things as possible to challenge your resolve to write. Demand the time and make the most of it. You’ll be amazed at how much you really can get done.


3 Responses to “Juggling Act”

  1. 1 Tamara Morgan
    1 February, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I’m doing a little experiment wherein I’m using pen and paper to write my newest WIP. So far, it’s working really well. Instead of sitting down at the computer, powering up, opening the documents, checking my email, logging in to Twitter, and then finally seeing where I left off, I simply open the notebook and start writing.

  2. 1 February, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Nice idea, Tamara — it’s really helpful to train yourself to start writing straight away. Otherwise those 5- and 10-minute slots are useless.

  3. 3 Ari
    2 February, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Tamera, that’s a great idea! As you can tell by my not commenting until today, I think I dropped one of the balls I had in the air. Either that or someone tossed me a new one!

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