I have accomplished mountains of laundry and grading today. You were maybe thinking I had completed writing the outline for my second book, Dream Keepers, or made progress on my poetry project. I wish those writing feats were true. Although I wear many hats these days, and as writer-teacher-wife-mother-friend… my mother and teacher hats needed to be pulled out of the closet. However, I have some writing tips below to help with a little balance.
Since I finally know who I want to be when I grow up, I am happily moving in that direction with few burdens. For example, I wrote a poem yesterday and this blog post today. I try to write at least a little something every day, no matter how small. But, as you know from past posts, “try” is the key word in my declaration.
The one burden of writing that gets me every time; guilt. Writing takes time, and I can’t take time away from my day job, so that leaves my family time. This is where guilty feelings sometimes present themselves… they eat away at my soul, or cause more gray hairs to sprout. But, thankfully, my children are older (and busier). My husband runs a crazy-busy business, and they all support this new writing endeavor I’m on. I do not take that for granted in the least. I 100% call myself lucky. So, because of that, I make an honest effort to balance my time between all the hats I wear.
And, that’s a major accomplishment in my book! Check out some of my tips that work for me below:
Writing Advice: Feeling accomplished with all your hats…
- Give yourself a break – you are going to feel tired, uninspired, interrupted, obligated, etc. The list goes on. Accept that reality and be ready for it when it happens. Take a deep-breath-break and move on to whatever it is you must do.
- Keep a journal in the car, in your bag, upstairs, downstairs, on your computer, in your phone, anywhere and everywhere. Then, regardless of what you’re doing or where you are, if an idea strikes you, jot it down. I’ve used my phone recorder to work through an entire chapter scene in a parking lot before. If you do no other writing that day, at least you’ve had some ideas stream from your mind. Your brain will process your story (or whatever you are working on) while you are busy with something else. Thinking your story is part of writing your story.
- Get back to your chair, your desk, your kitchen table, or wherever it is you create… as soon as you can. For me, the very act of putting myself at my desk gets me going. I learned this tip from an author at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association (PNWA) writing conference last year. It took a while to make the routine stick, but it works like a charm now. I sit down, and my brain kicks in, regardless of how many interruptions I experience. I just get back to my chair.
- Set weekly goals. I belong to three different online writing groups, and two of them encourage writers to post their weekly goals as a way of accountability. I can’t say I’m successful at finishing everything I post I will do, but it sure does put me in the right direction. I learned from another author at the PNWA writing conference to set a goal of 1,000 words a day. That was an accomplishable goal for me in the summer time, since I am a teacher and had time off. But as soon as September rolled around, those 1,000 words a day dwindled down to 200 at times. Pretty soon I had to accept the fact that some days I might be able to write 1,000 words, and other days, 25. Be okay with that (see bullet number one again).
- Take turns with your responsibilities. I did this even before I decided to call myself a writer. I do a little something for work, a little something for family, and a little something for myself… every day. I treat it like a ticket system. For example, if I get all my papers graded at school before I get home, then I earn my ticket to write. Or if I wash a load of laundry after work, and help with kids’ homework while making dinner, then I get to write. You can add in exercise, or social media time, or whatever your other responsibilities are. Do what works for you, as long as you get a little time for yourself.
- Of course, there are the days where it’s just not possible to find time for yourself… I encourage you to read bullet number one again. Give yourself a break and be where you need to be.
- Schedule your writing time. My son has karate two nights a week, and so I either plan to grade papers during those times, or write. If I know Wednesdays never work to write because I’m busy with family obligations, then I make sure I have a set time every Thursday. My weeks change with the wind, but I am definitely aware of any pockets of time to schedule writing.
- An author from one of my online writing groups suggests getting up an hour earlier or staying up an hour later. You must find what works for you, but sometimes accomplishing your goals is feeling a little sacrifice.
- It doesn’t work for me to write an hour earlier in the morning or even later at night. But I do get my Pilates done in the morning… another small accomplishment for me (I have to count them all)!
I hope some of these suggestions help you with your writing accomplishments, however don’t underestimate the rest of who you are. We all wear many hats, and are pulled in many directions. Go with the flow and be where you need to be… just try some of these tricks to find even the smallest amount of writing time. Those little writing minutes will eventually add up to completed projects and thus, larger blocks of writing time.
And no matter what you get done, be it writing or laundry – feel accomplished!
If you have little ones… you might try some advice from this author: http://www.10minutenovelists.com/8-ways-balance-writing-life-little-kids-around/
Categories: Thoughts on writing...