People get confused when I tell them I’m a “practically” single mother. To make a long story short, I am married but I’m an oil rig wife. This is a lot like saying my spouse is in the military because he’s never around. He lives on rig and we see him an average of 2-4 days a month, never on any kind of schedule. So taking care of our four children (aged 6.5 years, 5 years, 2 years, and 4 months) falls completely to me.
You can imagine how shocked people are when, after I explain my married-singleness, I also tell them I’m an author trying to become published.
“Where do you find time to read? Let alone write?!?!?!?!?!”
I hear this more often than almost anything else. (What I do hear more? “Wow. You’re busy.” Usually said by strangers as I push two grocery carts through the store, one filled with babies and the other with food.) But you know what? I watched Empire Records with my sister on repeat in middle school and I remember what Liv Tyler’s character said at he beginning of the movie: “There are 24 usable hours in every day.”
Yes, we need to sleep, and work (I do eyelash extensions part-time out of my home), and no, I don’t take speed or live off coffee (I never drink the stuff. I prefer hot chocolate.), but with a few tips I’ve picked up along the way, I’ve managed to not only complete several books on my TBR list, but also complete 3 novels. (WIPs are plentiful and sharing my time, lol.)
So here are some of my tricks/tips to getting my reading and writing done.
One: Never be caught without a book.
I tuck my book into my purse or diaper bag before I leave and also carry it around the house. So, if I get stuck waiting for a doctor’s appointment or have a few minutes while I wait for something to boil, I read. If I can find a middle grade audio book that I feel is appropriate for my kids, I listen to it in the car as we buzz around town or to activities. If you have an iPod (I do not. Yes, I am lame.) you could listen to books while you walk around campus or to work.
Two: Carry a notebook/notepad with you to jot down ideas.
I find this helps a lot when I’m plotting scenes in my head throughout the day as I wash dishes or when my son is doing a homeschooling project he doesn’t need help with. If I think through everything enough during the day, make a few quick notes about exact lines or points of a scene, I’m usually able to bust out the chapter a lot quicker once I finally get to sit down and write it.
Three: Remember that multitasking is your friend.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only with a Must-Get-Done list that’s ten times longer than my Want-To-Do list. I find the best way to knock out the things I have to do is to try and get them done at the same time. (ie, I will start the laundry, then start dinner, and clean the living room while it’s cooking.) That way, once the kiddos are down for bed at 8 pm, I can sit on the couch and read/write to my heart’s content because everything else got done while they were awake! (Oh, and I make them help with picking up and putting things away. Chores are their friends.)
Fun fact: the picture below is a pretty accurate description of how I get most of my reading and writing done.
Four: Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to weed out or prune down the unnecessary activities in life. This is something that I’ve really had to be strict with since my husband went out into the field three years ago and it’s still a bit of a juggling act.
I realized early on that if I wanted to home-school my children, have a clean house, maintain an active lifestyle, and become a well read, published author, I would have to think long and hard about what I would choose to spend my time on. Every minute is assigned (even if it’s a mind-melting 1/2 hour to unwind), and I have to be dedicated to keeping the assignments.
Things I cut out or cut down on:
Facebook (I’ll post life-changing events, “We had another baby!” or get updated addresses for Christmas cards, but otherwise, I stay off it.)
Movies and television shows (If I have the choice between t.v. or reading, I’ll always choose reading, but my bi-annual date night to the movies is all the more exciting for it!)
Sleep (Joking, but only sort of.)
Drama (Just let it go, okay? The time and energy spent on holding grudges or spending time with people that are awful to you isn’t worth it. Detox your life and don’t feed the trolls.)
Five: Have creative releases
Things I do when I need a break, can’t get into the writing groove, or am waiting for feedback from betas:
Craft (I make gifts for friends and work on my kids Christmas gifts throughout the year. It’s a creative outlet that has a shorter “baking” time, if you will, and it’s encouraging to mark something off the creative To-Do list.)
Work out (Nothing clears the mind like a Barre/Zumba/Pi-Yo class.)
Edit for CPs (Because fair is fair, and good friends beta for each other, am I right?)
I like to think that all these things are productive, and are things that need to get done, but also provide a creative release. They’re also all things that I don’t feel guilty assigning time to, and that’s big for me. (Maybe it’s weird, but part of my OCD is feeling guilt about wasted time. It’s like sitting around= missed opportunities.)
We all have different schedules, demands on our time, and things that we want to get done. No matter how different we are though, if you’re reading this blog, it’s likely that we share the dream of being published authors. So if your busy and struggling to make time to write, I hope some of these tips help. I hope you have some creative releases, and most of all, I hope we all get where we want to go.
Write on, friends!