Quote of the Day: "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that is why they call it the present." ~Kung Fu Panda
Life is full of a gazillion things that I have to do, and another gazillion things I want to do. And everything I don't get done that I think I should get done only adds to the pile of guilt. I want to be a good mom, but I also need time to write. I want to be a caring, attentive wife, but I also need time to write. I want to volunteer at the school, but I also need time to write. And so on. It seems like writing cuts into every aspect of life.
According to time management guru Stephen R. Covey, it's a matter of prioritizing. So here's how I prioritized my time. Keep in mind that this is what works for me, and every writer's process is an individual thing. For one thing, I don't work outside the home so that is a huge plus when it comes to finding time to write.
A while ago my kids started complaining about how I'm always upstairs in my room--where my home office work space is. That nagged at me until I realized I didn't want my children looking back on their childhood and saying, "I remember how mom used to sit for hours typing at her computer." I want them to remember me playing games with them, helping them with their science fair projects, riding bikes to the candy store.
In the evening I had some quiet time when the kids were in bed. But soon I noticed my husband being subtly bugged that I seemed to care more about writing my story than interacting with him. Although he's possibly the most supportive husband on the planet when it comes to me and my writing, I didn't want him to feel second place. I didn't want my writing to become a wedge that slowly split us apart.
Priority Number One: Family First
For me, family really is the most important and most gratifying endeavor I've ever worked on. I made a rule to put my writing aside the moment the kids get home from school. Also, I never write in the evenings. I use that time to be with my husband. (Exception to this is, of course, NaNoWriMo because then every waking moment must be spent on writing!)
Priority Number Two: My Spirituality
I refuse to shirk my church responsibilities or spiritual welfare by using that time to write. I complete my church obligations first, then work on my writing. Also, I never write on Sundays. You can read more about my faith here: mormon.org
Priority Number Three: My Writing
In a workshop with Martine Leavitt, she advised us that if we want to be real authors we can't have any other hobbies. I don't scrapbook. I don't shop. I don't play in the local orchestra. Those are all things I gave up to make time for writing.
Priority Number Four: Personal and Home Upkeep
You may think this should be above writing, but I'm sad to say, it's not. During the regular school year, I get up with my kids at 6:30 and get them off to school. Then I clean and tidy the house and run my errands. Two or three times a week I exercise--a 12 to 20 mile bike ride.
But at 11:30, I put everything aside, done or not, and write. I can usually get a good three hours in before the kids come home at 2:30. It's not much, and sometimes I have to start earlier and leave the laundry undone, but that's ok. Sometimes an appointment or lunch with my mother cuts into my writing time and I get less than an hour. But it's a good, regular time for me, and it's what works.
After this, everything else is filler. I spend a lot of time reading and critiquing the writing of others, such as my critique group. And a lot of time reading books.
Here are some other blogs I noticed recently that offer good advice about balancing the writing life and real life:
Agent Rachelle Gardiners 90/10 rule for building a web presence.
Balancing mom, work, and writing.