Every now and then I get asked, “How do you do it? Write with young children?” I think it’s such an odd question because men don’t get asked it, and it implies that having small children means that all of life revolves around the task of parenting. While much of life does, my life as a person, as an individual with dreams, goals, and creative output doesn’t.
But I do know what they mean. They mean, how do you find the time? Here’s a hint. Most professional writers that I know have full time jobs, many are also parents, some work part time. The question should be–how does anyone make the time for writing or their art?
When I wrote OUT OF REACH, I had three kids and taught part time.
Here are some tips to carve out the time.
- Make Time/hire a babysitter
No one is going to care if you are writing or not. You have to be your biggest advocate. Create the time. Get up at 5:30 am and write for an hour before kids get up. Write during nap times. Write in the evening after kids are in bed. Hire a sitter so you can go and write for a couple of hours. Whatever it takes.
Read. Read. Read. That’s how you’ll know how a story flows, how paragraphs are formed, how the words should feel. Read to be inspired. Read to fill up your own creative mind and tank.
- Stop whining/making excuses
Everyone is busy. No one has time. People have hardships that you cannot even dream of. So stop it. So you have small kids. Big deal. Sit your butt down and write.
- Be professional. Treat it like a job, not a whim
Professional writers show up to work every day with regular hours. They do not sit around and dream about writing or about having enough time to write. They write.
- Put on a movie for the kids
Sometimes it’s necessary to schedule a movie for the kids so you can write. I grew up watching TV, probably more than an hour a day. My brain is not mush. I got straight A’s, went to college on scholarships, became a teacher and now a writer.
Scheduling becomes your friend because that’ll help you with the discipline. Go with the flow of your family so that it’ll be easier on them and you. Get your kids and husband involved so that they can encourage you and keep you accountable.
- Make achievable goals
Some writers have daily word counts, others go by chapters or time. Whatever you want, but make them small enough to accomplish and big enough to inspire.
- Visualize where you want to be in 6 months, a year, five years from now.
This is key because it’ll keep those daily goals focused. What’s the ultimate goal? To finish a book? To get an agent? To get published? Keep that carrot in front of the horse.
- Feed your soul
What makes you happy? What gives you rest? Make sure you’re doing those things as well.
- Enlist the help of others
You may be surprised at how family and friends will rally around you. Take the people who casually throw out, “If you ever need a baby sitter…” Say yes. Hit them up. Exchange babysitting favors for others.
A bonus tip: Whatever it takes. This should be your mantra. Whatever it takes.