Managing writing comes down to three goals: effective time management, right writing environment, and setting aside time for family. It’s like a rickety tripod. If one leg falls, the rest go with it. But it’s how I learned to find my writing time and balance it with my busy life.
Well, that and cultivated self-care. That’s another post though. Know I put it in there too.
Sacred Writing Time
Ten minutes. Two-hour block. 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday.
Writing requires time. Without it, the writing doesn’t get done. Having enough time to write, though, is as important as the creativity. The problem is having a single, set writing time is laughable. My schedule doesn’t allow for it. But, every day, I sit down at my computer and write anyway.
And, here’s the important bit: I make myself work, no matter what. I set the timer on my phone for ten minutes, sit in front of my computer, and bleed. Seriously. Sometimes the words dripped out and I’d count the seconds.
But then a miracle happens. I forget about the seconds as they slid past. The story takes hold and the next thing I know, I’m a thousand words in and an hour has passed.
Writing time is important. Anything you want to focus on deserves your undivided attention.
Out D**n Spot
I swear, if I have to listen to you kids argue one. more. time. There will be bloodshed.
I’d like to say those words never left my lips but I’d be lying. I wish it didn’t but life has a way of being a pressure cooker. To keep my sanity, and to keep writing, I have two options: get out of the house or barricade myself in my little office.
On those days, when I must get out of the house, I head to one of two favorite spots. The first is Denny’s, where I can meet up with Chautona Havig and, every blue moon, C.R. Rowenson. But not before 8 p.m. And, oddly enough, no one bothers us. Most of the time, anyway. It may be because we’ve become a regular sight, and now we’re part of the woodwork. Or it could be because it’s 2 a.m. and no one wants to talk to anyone in the wee hours of the morning.
During the day, though, I head to the public library. Oh, I could sing odes of loveliness to the public library. I won’t as I’m tone deaf. Just kidding. But I can’t carry a tune to save my life.
Say thank you.
Getting out of the house is as important as the actual writing itself. I need that space to concentrate. If I can’t get out, I can lock myself in my office, with its pink walls, chandelier, and 7-foot whiteboard.
I’m so not kidding. I have a chandelier. I’m lucky that way.
I am, you know. Lucky, that is. I have a private space to where I can
hide write. If I still feel like I’m in life’s pressure cooker, see the part about where I head to Denny’s.
No matter where I am, I make myself work. Ten minutes at a time.
I learned a long time ago that family is important. Yeah, yeah. We all know our family’s important. But I didn’t get it until we had kids. Until being parents left us drifting apart as if we were ripples on a pond. Slowly but inexorably moving away from each other.
Putting your family first, before anything else, is not negotiable. Not anymore. When you start actively listening and paying attention something blessed happens. Those ripples reverse. They find their way back to the middle where everything should be cohesive and whole. That’s what putting your family first does.
Don’t think I’m blissed out over here. I get antsy. There are days when I watch the minutes slide by and think to myself, “That is another minute I’m not writing.” I shame myself on those days, ask for forgiveness, and focus back on my family.
Our family is a gift we are given, no matter the cause or the situation. I must remind myself of that every single day. My family comes first. After all, they are why I write in the first place.
And afterward, and only afterward, I make myself work. Ten minutes at a time.
While it may seem like I have this all figured out, please do not be deceived. Every day brings its own challenges and I must be flexible to find my writing time. To say my schedule can be somewhat fluid is like saying the ocean has currents. It’s always moving. I try very hard to make sure I balance all my responsibilities. Some days I fail. Miserably, might I add.
But on other days….oh those other days. They flow so perfectly: the words pour out, the family is in perfect communion with each other, and it’s just glorious. I live for those days. Unfortunately, they don’t happen as often as I’d like.
And guess what? That’s okay. The not-so-perfect days remind me – teach me – to grab onto those perfect ones and be blessed by them. To know them for the joy they are.
And that is how I manage my writing time and my life.
So, how do you manage your (insert career of choice here)? Tell me below in the comments!