Thursday, September 17, 2015

How I Find Time to Write

Writing while the kids are home is akin to torture. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and I love writing, but the two never seem to mesh well together. I've been struggling with finding a balance between motherhood and writing for 9 years and 4 babies. I have a 9 year-old son, a 7 year-old son, a 4 year-old daughter and a 4 month son. I never knew how lucky I had it when I could write for hours on end or even during a 30 minute lunch break when I was working. Since my job closed down and I became a stay-at-home mom, I've encountered new challenges. Some were not so easy to overcome.

The Challenge

Finding time to write with a busy family is one of those challenges.

Especially when my husband is often gone for long periods of time and when he is home, he's more interested in relaxing than watching our kids so I can find some peace of my own. He works hard, but I still find it frustrating. And he does, too. I know he'd prefer to stay home instead of working a job he really doesn't like. 

So without help from my spouse, I needed to find my own way of getting in some writing time.

On My Own

Before I became a mother I was a night-time writer. After having my boys, by the time 8pm rolled around, I was exhausted from the day and often fell asleep with my forehead resting on the keyboard of my laptop. 

Yeah, not comfortable.

But I was persistent. If I could no longer write at night, then I'd go to sleep early and wake up before everyone else in the morning. That would've worked great, except for my early bird firstborn who wakes at 6am (sometimes earlier!) every day. And yes, before you say it, I did set my alarm for an hour earlier, but guess what? He still woke up 10 minutes after me. He's got some sort of psychic sense that will alert him instantly if I'm awake. And if I'm asleep, he'll wake up at 6am on his own. It's not his fault. He's been doing it ever since he was born. Seriously, he's been on a schedule since he was a baby. It's built in.

So, not one to give up my dream of becoming an author who stayed at home to write her bestselling novels, I had to change my routine yet again.

Try, Try Again

Adaptability! My saving grace!

Since I couldn't write at night and couldn't write in the wee hours of the morning, I'd have to find time during the day. So for the first few years of my children's lives, I had my laptop propped on the end table in the living room, open to the word document file of my story at all times during the day. This was to cut down on time - having to restart the laptop, open the file, wait while it loaded, only to have to stop what I was doing because one of the boys spilled something. Keeping my laptop open and ready saved time. 

When I got a chance to sit down for a moment or two, I'd write a few lines. When I saw my boys were happily playing on the floor, I'd write a few lines. When they were both conked out on the sofa after watching an hour of Sesame Street prior to nap time, I'd write a few lines more (that's if I wasn't conked out on the sofa next to them!). 

This is how I wrote several of my stories including The Witch and the Vampire

Write a Little Everyday

My point is, that I wrote in small segments (incredibly small) until that novel was complete. It was not easy. It was rather tortuous. But it was the only method that worked while taking care of my kids.

I will mention here, however, that keeping my laptop open to my word document wasn't always a perfect way to go. The laptop was also a piece of shininess that my little crows found irresistible. I'd have to chase them away at times with a stern, "Do not touch Mommy's computer!"

This wasn't always effective. There was that time my editor at The Wild Rose Press found a bunch of jumbled letter's and my son's name printed in the manuscript that I sent her when he first learned to write. Thankfully, she has a great sense of humor and found it amusing!

I suppose I didn’t do enough spellchecking back then!

Times Change

This method was only temporary. As they grew older, they were able to understand that they were to play together with their toys and come to mommy while she was writing only when someone was bleeding. Most often, I hear the yelling and screaming and I'm able to prevent things from progressing to bodily injury.

Of course now, I'm back to square one again with my newborn baby boy. It's actually easier this time around because I have my older kids to keep him occupied on the floor while I sit on the sofa and type away. When they get tired of playing with him, or he gets tired of being played with as my 4 y/o daughter still thinks he's a doll, then they hand him to me and I put my laptop back on the table by the sofa. I keep it open, ready for the inevitable moment I'll find them all distracted and they won't know that Mommy has escaped into her fantasyland for a few minutes.

There will come a day when all of my children will be in school and I'll think back fondly to these days when I struggled to find time to write without interruptions.

At least, that's what other writing mom's tell me.


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