I lived alone for several years. I had my first child at 28. In all of that free time before children, I dabbled with writing, but nothing complete. Maybe one novel at best, and it’s so crappy I don’t even feel like looking for it.
Sometimes I wonder what I did with all that free time. The thought of having it today seems so foreign I don’t even bother teasing myself with the idea.
The odd thing is, I’m more productive now as a mother of three small children than ever. For years I feared the stories so many parents before me have spread about not having time for anything. I was determined not to fall down that rabbit hole.
I have a full-time job. Three kids under the age of six. A husband. Dog. House. Community commitments. I don’t allow myself to use any of that as an excuse not to do what I love. I learned to stand up for my writing. It wasn’t easy. It’s definitely something I’ve gotten better at with the arrival of each kid.
Here’s what I do (and have learned):
- Make time for writing. I favor time that doesn’t interrupt family time. I wake up at 3:30AM right now because I have a baby who I nurse. At some point he won’t need me around the clock and I’ll be able to go to the coffee shop for a few hours without guilt. But for now, early mornings work Sometimes I write after work and my husband picks up the kids. By the time he makes the rounds and brings them home, I often get one to two hours of solid writing in. Again, it doesn’t interrupt the family schedule.
- Make writing a priority. Every day. No excuses. Get everyone on board with it. My husband helps me stick to it by picking up some of the family slack. A happy mom is a happy family. I love that my kids see me writing. No trading it for something more important. Writing is important.
- Set goals for yourself. I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo, so it’s awesome for goal-setting. I have a daily target of 2800 words. I highly recommend having a target goal. I find it’s so much easier to be productive and be satisfied with what you’ve done if you’ve made an attainable goal for yourself.
- Be flexible. If you have a busy life like me, shit comes up. All the time. Sometimes you’ll have to be flexible and creative about where you find time. Ten minutes while the kids are playing, during a lunch break, late at night…you can find time. Often this may require us to make choices, like not watching TV, staying up a little later, working quickly, etc. My biggest struggle is maintaining balance in my schedule so I can write and work out. It’s so hard. Sometimes I have to shorten a workout to finish a writing project. I don’t like doing it, so I’m eternally trying to balance everything going on. I feel like I’m juggling balls that are flying in every direction, trying to keep them all from dropping to the ground. The reality is we probably can only have a few balls going at the same time. Being a great mother, a fit person, and a writer are my top three “balls” that I’m typically nurturing and paying attention to.
No matter what, you get to keep your excuses at the end of the day. Some people have a wide collection of excuses. I prefer to try to overcome obstacles instead of letting them stop me.