I’m often asked how I get so much writing done when I also homeschool my three daughters. And until about a year ago, I would’ve said it was quite difficult, actually.
For most of my life writing was a hobby, something I only did every few months when an idea hit me and I could convince my family that ignoring them was in their best interest. (For my own sanity, that is!) It wasn’t until I released my self-published novellas that I decided to refer to myself as a writer, and it took even longer than that before I would tell people that I wrote for a living. (Much longer.) Because let’s be honest – I may not earn a dime from it (yet), but it’s what I choose to do every day! However, along with this daily writing declaration came a need for balance, a routine that my family and I could accept. It has a tendency to change every few months – depending on changes with school, family member responsibilities, etc. But overall, this is how I’m able to balance the love of my craft with the love of my family.
Very recently (and painfully) I was reminded just how important a true writing space is. We have an itty-bitty room upstairs (literally like a walk-in closet) that my husband set a desk and chair in, along with a lamp. He declared it mine and told the kids ‘not to disturb mommy when she was in there’. (Thanks, hon!) And it works great. However sometimes papers get piled on that little desk and then there no room for my laptop, so I just give up and sit in my bed to write. That is, until I got a pinched nerve in my shoulder and couldn’t write a for a few days! That was less than 3 weeks ago, and the memory is still fresh in my mind. (Ouch!) Not fun.
Take your space seriously, people. Set it up and use it. (And make sure it’s ergonomically correct, too. 😉 ) And if you live in a small house, I hear ya! But something a speaker at our local Lancaster Christian Writers meeting said last year has stuck with me. Even if you don’t have a physical space to call yours, you can still make it yours. Use a set of candlesticks, a coffee mug, or some other personal item that says, “This is my writing space. Please leave me alone when I’m here and in thought!”
Ok, this is the tough one for most people. Because, well… life! Yes, it does tend to get in the way, I won’t deny that. And it’s important, it really is! Family, children, spouses, actual jobs where you might even earn a wage. Yeah, those things are important. So how do I balance them? Well, I’ve found a time that works for all of us. Which in my household means very. early. And before you ask, no, I’m definitely not a morning person! However my love of writing has kicked my selfish-sleepy-desires in the tail end and I’ve succumbed to waking around 6 each morning. I find I write best after I’ve sat with the Lord for a few minutes and had a chance to read scripture/had some prayer time, so that comes first. Then…
…by the time I begin writing it’s usually around 6:45ish. Now, I will admit, here is where I have an extreme advantage: I happen to be good typer. I actually enjoy it! And the last I checked I could type 63 wpm. So, yeah… I type about as fast as I think! Which is a big help when I’m typing out dialogue between characters. I’m literally able to type it out as fast as they talk in my head. So, when I say my books play out inside my head like scenes from a movie – I really mean it! I see it and write it in ‘real’ time. I’m usually able to write 1000-1500 words in about an hour, depending on how well thought out I had the scene before I sat down to write.
Until 2015, I thought my writing had to be an all or nothing thing. I would either write or edit a book. And that was that. But what I found was, when I edited I was frustrated by not being creative and making something new. And when I only wrote, I was frustrated that I wasn’t perfecting what I’d already made, enabling it to be presented to others. So I decided I need to do both. Everyday. This means that after my marathon of writing earlier in the day, I take the rest of the morning to homeschool my girls and get things done for my family. Then around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, I am usually able to sneak away to do some editing. Which I do for about 30 minutes. Then I come back to my girls. (I’ve found that any longer than this will certainly result in their pestering me while I work anyway, and it helps my brain to rest and regroup. And my back appreciates the break, too!) Then I go back up for another 30 minutes with another break after that. I aim to edit for about 2 hrs each day, but there’s always the exception which I’ve learned to embrace with open arms. It’s my choice: I can grow frustrated when I don’t have the time to write/edit, or I can allow God to have complete control. I’ve found it’s less stressful when I allow God to be in charge rather than let my emotions take their toll.
I also belong to a writing group that meets every Thursday evening for 2 1/2 hrs. Yes, it’s a group of ladies which then means we spend some of the time talking. Because, friends! But I am able to focus in for most of the time and get at least some work done. I try to keep my routine on Saturdays, but give myself Sundays off only if I feel like it’s a chore. (There have been plenty of ‘sabbath days’ where I’ve had a burning desire to write for fun and have chosen to use the gift God gave me!)
What about you? What is your writing routine? Have you found a rhythm that works for you or are do you still struggle to find balance? I’d love to hear what you have to say below!!
Happy reading, friends!