Thanks to Meaghan from Quill and Tome for this week’s guest post!
Writing is hard.
Writing with kids is even harder.
If you manage to write anything while being a mom, you have achieved more than most. After writing professionally for about five years now, I feel like I have finally figured out a way to write everyday, clean my house, and still have time for my family. Not that I am an expert, as there is always room for improvement, but doing these ten things everyday helps me stay organized and increases my productivity when it comes to my writing and life in general.
Once I started blocking my time, I was able to consistently get another 500 to 1,000 words written every day, in addition to keeping my house much cleaner than before! Take a look at your current schedule. Where do you tend to waste time? Is there anything you would be willing to drop in order to write? Be honest with yourself: if you aren’t willing to give up watching your T.V. show with the hubby, don’t block that time off for writing. A 30 minute time block set aside specifically for writing can be fairly simple to implement. Instead of cleaning when the kids go down for a nap, set that time aside to write. You can set aside another time to clean when the kids are awake.
Leave a Notebook Out
Writing with kids running around the house is a challenge. You can’t really shut yourself away at the computer and leave the T.V. to babysit the kids. You can’t always get up before the baby. One of the things that I have found to be the best way to get writing in during the day is to leave my notebook open on the kitchen table. Whenever I can, I take a moment to sit down and write while the kids are playing legos in the living room. This way, I can keep an eye on them and still work towards my word count.
Set Small, Achievable Goals
If you set realistic goals for yourself, you will be more likely to achieve them. Of course, there are authors out there who can churn out 10 books a year, and kudos to them. If you can only fit in one book every two years because you are also a mom, that doesn’t make you any less of a writer. Set the goal of one book every two years, and then break it down. Set a goal of 1,000 words a week. There may be some days where you luck out and can do that in one day, and there may be others where you can only manage a sentence. That is okay. Setting these smaller goals will help keep up your morale and make you feel more productive.
Regardless of how much you write, you should write something every day. Even if it is only a few words. Showing up to write is half the battle. If you show up every day at the same time, eventually your brain will start to get in the mindset of writing before you even sit down. Then, when you are ready, the words will come easily and you will be able to write more in a shorter period of time.
Do Nothing but Write
As a mom, your day is full of distractions, and you are constantly doing several things at once. You are doing the dishes while your toddler is telling you a story, and at the same time you are watching the baby crawl around trying to make sure they don’t put anything in their mouth. After a while, multitasking feels normal, but multitasking while writing is one of the worst things you can do. When you write, do nothing but write. Don’t edit your spelling mistake at the beginning of the sentence. Don’t stop writing to research a fact. Put a mark next to it, and come back later. Write first, get the words on the page, THEN you can come back and fix it up.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
A lot of us have several story ideas that we can’t wait to write down, but sometimes we need to step back and take it a little slower. Write one story at a time. For instance, I have three books that I am currently working on, and I constantly have to remind myself that I am working on my novel today and not my nonfiction book. I become a lot more productive if I can manage to focus on one project at a time, instead of jumping from book to book.
Get Rid of Distractions
We live in a time where there are a million distractions at our fingertips at any given moment. Try to write when your kids are asleep or watching a movie, and you can snag 30 minutes without them asking you for a snack. Leave your phone out of reach or even in another room. I tend to write in a notebook, but if you write on the computer, it is easy to just switch to another tab. Resist this urge! If you can’t keep yourself from switching, try closing the tabs or write in a distraction-free program.
Have an Idea of Where the Story is Going
I know that many writers do not like to use outlines, but they can be a big help in keeping you on track, especially when you can only write in 30 minute sprints. You can outline your stories as detailed as you wish, or you can have just a general idea of what you want to happen. If you map this out before actually sitting down to write, you will be able to get more words in during your writing sessions.
Sometimes it is hard enough to fit writing into your day, but you should also try to read a little bit every day. A good writer is also a good reader. Reading can help you figure out how certain parts of your story should work. It can also give you inspiration and that little push you need to really get your words down on the page. Read for ten minutes every day, while you drink your morning coffee, on your lunch break, or before bed. Sometimes I have even snuck a book into the bathroom just to read a few pages in peace.
Realize You Are Also A Mom
It is great to have big writer dreams, and it is okay take your time making those dreams a reality. In fact, it is more than okay to put your writing aside for an afternoon to take your kids to the park. Your kids are only going to be little once. You will blink and they will be grown. Write when you can, and do it for yourself as much as any other reason, but realize that you are not just a writer, you are also a mom.
Meaghan Halderman is the Chief Writer over at Quill and Tome, a place that provides resources to readers and writers alike. You can download her free workbook to learn how to fit writing into your life, whether you are a busy stay at home mom, working full time, or a business owner. She is on a mission to raise two wonderful kids, while spreading the love of literature and helping people succeed in their writing endeavors.