In a perfect world, I would be writing my blog and next bestseller in a beautiful cabin in the mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. A steaming cup of hot cocoa would be sitting next to my laptop as I looked out the window to admire the beautiful scenery only found in the paintings of Thomas Kinkade.
Sadly, I’m sitting at my dining room table still in my work clothes after a long day at work writing this as I scream at my four-year-old daughter to leave her brother alone because he is trying to get his homework done. I still have lunches to pack for tomorrow, kids to bathe, and a kitchen that still needs to be cleaned. My husband is in his man-cave doing homework for his graduate program and I am exhausted. When I first started writing it was easy to say I was just too busy or too tired to sit in front of a computer at home after staring at numbers on a spreadsheet for nine hours, but I knew that if I didn’t gather enough energy to drag myself to my laptop then my book and blog would never get written.
So how do I find time to write with a hectic schedule? Every day I start working on my book around eight thirty at night when everyone is asleep and I lay in bed next to my husband with all the lights off except for the light glaring from my computer screen. I put my headphones on, tune to Pandora, and get to work. I try to work till at least ten at night and then attempt to fall asleep with stories and scenes still playing in my head. On the weekend, I will usually go to a café near where I live and write for a couple of hours before heading back home to spend time with my family or run errands. I don’t write as much as I would like to but the reality is this is all the time I have right now.
When I started working part time, everyone thought I would have all this free time to write my novel, but in reality, I found myself busier than normal! Not only was I trying to do a full time job on a part time schedule, but I was also trying to fill the role of a stay at home mom while starting my own business. I quickly realized that I was heading towards disaster and disappointment since I couldn’t possibly be 100 percent of everything; so instead, I decided to live within the limits of reality and set some priorities. For me my children will always be my number one priority in my life and I will never be willing to give up time with them to pursue my dreams. They will only be small once and I want to cherish every moment I get to spend with them.
At work I had to make peace with myself and realize that I would not be able to do a full time job on a part time schedule and that whatever I didn’t manage to complete during my regular scheduled work hours would just be there waiting for me when I got back to work on Monday. As for any personal time for myself, I decided that I would sacrifice watching any television and instead dedicate any free time I had to my writing. I know that it will take me longer than planned to release my book, but that’s okay.
Discipline has never been something I have been good at and has just led me to sabotaging myself and any goals I had set. I took a hard look at myself and said, “Stephanie, if you really want this then you have to get your shit together and stop messing around!” I decided that I needed to make writing part of my daily routine just like brushing my teeth—no matter how tired I was! I had to evaluate my day and find out when I would be able to squeeze in time for writing. My schedule is not perfect and a lot of times it doesn’t work out, but I make my best attempt to write every single day even if it’s just editing something I wrote the previous night when I was half asleep.
We all have different things going on in our lives and what works for me may not work for you so here are some tips that I have found online that may help you increase your writing productivity:
At work: If you get a lunch break, you can consider working on your writing while you enjoy your lunch.
Consider waking up an hour early before work or before your children wake up so you can write.
Always schedule time during the day to write and let everyone in the family know that you will be working during those times.
Go to a café or secluded area in your house to get some quiet time while you write and TURN OFF the internet unless you are doing research. Don’t look at Facebook, Google, Amazon, Wayfair, Pinterest, Joss& Main, etc. (I love all these websites by the way).
If you go on a walk or have to walk your dog, dictate your writing into your phone.
Whatever you do, make sure you write every day. Even if you just write a small paragraph, stay in the habit of writing and practicing your craft. The more you write, the better you will be at it.
Read in the genre you write in. That’s right, part of writing and improving your writing means reading.
Set writing goals. This can be one chapter a week, or 500 words a day, that way you have a target that you can meet.
Believe me, there will never be the perfect time to do anything. Life will always be busy and there will always be obstacles in the way. Instead of making excuses on all the reasons why you can’t or don’t have time to write, change your mindset to find ways to remove any obstacles that stand between you and your next best seller.
So get to writing!
The Inside Voice.