My daughter turned five years old this year. A sweet, sassy, and energetic little being that is now just beginning her journey into school. She starts transitional kindergarten this year. Which means I will have WAY more time and energy to dedicate myself to writing.
I’m 1,362 words in My Turn To Hurt You. I kept thinking to myself, “Damn. That is nothing compared to what I used to write as a ghostwriter.” Freelancing back when my daughter was younger meant I could write during naps and early bedtime.
I leave my daughter alone for more a few minutes these days and then–BAM! Something is either broke, missing, or there’s a decent sized bruise on her leg from playing the floor is lava game.
I spent this past summer desperately trying to balance a freelance career and my daughter staying home with me full-time. I won’t lie. I’m like any other mom out there in the world that loses her shit and breaks down, but I did find some useful tips out there to keep me productive.
- Set a schedule
I’ll be honest. As much as I love my iPhone, I hate the calendar, and if I don’t pencil something down physically on a piece of paper, it will slip through my mind. Mom brain consists of three meals a day, snacks, activities, temper tantrums, and the chaos of trying to get a five-year-old to go to bed. Doesn’t happen easily.
Planner’s were a godsend for me. I could see when projects were due, but also where I had the time to write. Which usually happened first thing in the early morning when Paw Patrol and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was on. I stuck to writing during time slots where there was less distraction. Which worked beautifully.
- To plot, or not to plot?
Raise your hand if you love to outline and plot! Me, me, me!!! Writing without a plot is like bouncing around the ocean in a boat with no map and no clue of where you are.
With my daughter on board, I get lost quickly if I don’t have an idea of what is going to happen in chapter five. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to remember the brilliant opening paragraph that you just thought of and can’t remember! That’s why I am firm believer in taking the time to plot and flesh out the characters because it’s inevitable that you will get interrupted a few times throughout motherhood. Just saying.
- Make the space for writing.
I have an office that I dedicate my serious writing time to. It’s not full of distractions. It has all my essential needs. I can close the door against noise if I really need too. Even a semi-comfortable chair to sit in while I type.
The great thing about making a physical space is that it sets boundaries and respect for my child. She understands that my office is mine, so she treats it differently. If I’m in my office writing, she will bring in her own chair and scribble in a notebook until I am done.
- Buy a timer.
A writing colleague of mine suggested this when she asked what held me back from my writing goals. The lack of time. Let’s face it. There is not enough hours during the day to get anything you want done. When you’re trying to write with a bored and bouncing child at your side, you spend more time trying to plead with them than actually write.
So, I bought a timer. I made it a game. “When this timer goes off in twenty minutes, you can get a cookie.” Some might think that’s a horrible idea. I recently had a mother accuse of me being neglectful (as you can clearly see in the picture above) of my daughter. We’re talking an hour or two out of the day that needs to be dedicated to writing. My daughter now sits and reads her books until the timer goes off. Writing in sprints is how I manage to do anything.
- Take breaks.
I told my clients a long time ago that my writing schedule will always be Monday through Friday. I rarely write on the weekends for work, and I make it a point to not work past a certain hour in the evening. That is my time to relax and enjoy the weekends as a family unit– not me tucked away in my office.
Taking breaks is critical to recharging as a writer, but also as a mother. Our brains are on all the time. I’m writing this now on a Sunday morning because Grandma swung by to take my daughter to Target. To let me have some peace and quiet, but I obviously haven’t taken this tip to heart yet because I am ready to write. I do plan to take a nap though when my daughter comes home tired and ready for a nap too.