When I was about to go on maternity leave with my first child, I had a co-worker come up to me and say:
“A whole year off! Wow, you’ll be able to write a book!”
It sounded fantastic at the time. Neither of us had children though, and neither of us knew how very…very…VERY wrong she was. In reality, if I was able to stay awake through dinner, I would consider it a successful day.
Once the shellshock of a newborn dissipated, I was able to go back to writing daily. I was freelancing, writing essays, and publishing blog posts twice a week. It was hard, and I had to get creative with finding the time to do it. Here are a few of the things I found worked the best:
- Give myself time to think: no pressure to write, just think. It’s amazing how many great ideas and sentences are created in my head when there’s silence in the air. I usually have a bath (with the door locked), go for a drive, or go to bed an hour early with a notebook nearby, just to lay there and think of a plot, an ending, etc.
- Just say no: parents get invited to all kinds of social events like playdates and birthday parties. The calendar fills up quickly. I say yes to most important social events, but when I need more writing time, and I feel the calendar closing in on me, I start saying no.
- Turn the TV off: as a parent, all I want to do at the end of the night is sit down and watch an episode of something. Instead, I try to do that while I’m washing dishes or working out. I want to save that last hour at night to pump out a few paragraphs.
- Write in short bursts: I hated this at first. It would always take me at least 20 minutes to really start going on something. However, I found if I left off on a good note (knowing what I was about to write in the next few paragraphs), it made it easier to just jump in and write for 10 or 15 minutes here and there.
- Write everywhere: I write in the car while I’m waiting to pick up my kids. While I’m waiting for them to get dressed in the morning. If we arrive somewhere a few minutes early, I take out my phone and type away for as long as possible. Every minute counts.
- Exercise: sounds silly right? If I had the time to exercise, I would use it for writing, right? Exercise, believe it or not, actually gives you an energy boost. I find if I run for 20-30 minutes in the morning, I can stay up later at night and write for longer periods.
Finding the time to write is not always easy, especially when you have children and are exhausted at the end of the night. But if you love it, you’ll find a way.
How do you carve out time to write? Drop a comment below.