So, a little disorganized, because it's late. My top 5 strategies for getting work done when you are squeezing your work in around the work that comes with kids under 8 or so.
- Embrace the chaos
In my life before kids, I would set aside an entire day for writing. I would get plenty of coffee, and curl up in my favorite chair, with my laptop, and stare off into space while I waited for the muse to arrive. Can you smell the romance? Right.
For a long time after my kids were born, I kept waiting for the chance to get that sense back. The thing is, it's never going to happen, at least not until my kids are a good bit older. Key to writing success for me has been embracing the fact that I need to snatch writing time where I can find it. I don't leave the house without a notebook and a pen, and I scratch out a few sentences whenever I get the chance.
- Stop waiting for the muse
This isn't always a popular sentiment, but it's one thing that every writer who lives on their writing seems to agree on; you can't wait around for inspiration. Story ideas may come from inspiration (although that's a topic for another blog post another day, when I'm less tired), but books come from work.
People who have meditated for years talk about how they just sit down and very quickly find that inner sense of peace and calm that comes with deep meditation. When I stopped waiting for the muse to show up and guide my pen, I found something similar. I sit down, pull out my notebook and pen, and the words are there, because they know I'm waiting for them.
- Consider your writing as self-care
I've talked before about mental illness and writing. Even if you don't deal with depression and anxiety in an ongoing way, if writing is important to you, if it makes you feel more human, then you need it. Put it right up there at the top of your to-do list with coffee, shower, whatever makes you feel like a person. It's important, and you get to value it.
- Make dedicated time when you can
While I stand by my second point, that you can't wait for uninterrupted time, it's also important for you to carve out time when you can that is just for you. When my kids were very young, this often looked like writing in their rooms, waiting for them to fall asleep. Now, I trade off-duty time with my spouse. He gets a night a week to do his thing, I get a night a week to do mine. It's crucial.
- All writing counts
Some days, the only writing I do (other than freelance work, which I don't count because it's day job, and it doesn't feed my soul) is on Twitter, or in my bullet journal, or on a parenting forum that I help to moderate. I used to tell myself that that writing didn't count, that it wasn't REAL. Letting go of that thought about REAL writing was a crucial moment for me.
I could bind myself up in twisting guilt that would have made my Catholic grandmother proud. You see, I felt guilty for not getting writing done, which meant that I needed to take more time to get writing done, but because I was busy feeling guilty, the writing didn't get done, which meant...yeah, you can see how that would spiral out very quickly.
Do what you can, and leave the rest.
There you are. Five slightly disorganized, but present, tips on how to get some writing done, even if you have young kids in the house. If you have suggestions of your own, I'd love to hear them!