Since a lot of friends know I have 4 kids and too many jobs, I get this question a lot:
How do you find time to write?
There are two sides of this coin today, folks. Read on for author drama.
1. For the last month, I’ve barely squeaked out a short story. To a prolific author, this feels as though someone just hit me with a cartoon stun gun and I’m frozen. The wheels in my head are turning but I can’t move my fingers to get any words out. Who stunned me, you ask? My freelance editing workload hit new heights, and I had 4 of my own edits for various publishers to turn around in 4 weeks. Something had to give, and that was my writing.
But two weeks into my writing celibacy, I started to get cranky. Owly, grumpy, bitchy. I didn’t have a creative outlet, and it was impacting my morale as well as the spirits of those around me–friends and family. Finally I decided my self-induced dry spell couldn’t go on. Even if I scribbled 500 words a day, I needed to write.
2. Here’s the other side of the coin I promised. I SHOULD NEVER FORGET MY #1 GOAL.
I’m an author first, editor second, marketing guru third. I prioritize my work in this order. Somehow, I manage to get it all done–most of the time. Here’s how I carved out time to write even with hundreds of thousands of words to edit, blogs to write, and a heavy weight of administrative work.
START SMALL — After my writing break, my mind was reset. I had several new book ideas and new characters screaming for me to write them down. So I grabbed my master plotting notebook and penned everything from fully realized plots to snippets of dialogue. Once that was purged, I had room for more ideas in my overloaded brain. Rinse and repeat.
THE FRONT-SEAT AUTHOR — Most parents will understand what this is without explanation. You know, when you’re sitting in your car waiting to pick up kids at football, dance, soccer. Or you have 15 minutes before you actually need to go into a doctor’s appointment, and sitting in the germy, cesspool of a waiting room isn’t gonna fly. Instead of staring mutinously at the meter reader sharking around my SUV, I took advantage of these precious minutes to write out a few lines of dialogue or even some steamy sex.
LATE NIGHTS — You might not be a night owl, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take twenty minutes at the end of the day to stay up and let your characters have free rein. By the end of the week, you’ll have a few thousand words written, and you sleep in on Saturday.
BRIBERY IS YOUR FRIEND — If you’re a parent, a nice Red Box rental and a bag of movie theater candy goes a long way. Imagine the quiet 1 hour and 37 minutes awaiting you…ahhhh.
If you just have an annoying, hovering spouse (go ahead, raise your hands — they aren’t looking), give him a golf pass. Turn on the game and make him some wingdings. Or tell him to go shoot something for dinner.
DON’T SQUANDER MINUTES — are you sauteeing something? Bring your laptop into the kitchen with you. Have Mt. St. Laundry to fold? Play the folding game–fold 20 items (underwear, socks, and towels don’t count). When you’re done, do a 20 min writing sprint.
TRY NOT TO OVERLOAD — You’re saying, “Shut up, Em. It’s the holidays. I have the bake sale, book club, office party…” We all take huge amounts of work on our shoulders, but it’s okay to say no. NO, I can’t fill in at Santa’s Secret Workshop. NO, I can’t meet you for dinner until January. NO NO NO.
This is where I went wrong last month, and my writing and psyche suffered for it. So I’m taking my own advice, thank ya very much.
*EM PETROVA IS OFFLINE WRITING*