Friday, April 8, 2011


I don't think I know a single person that has time anymore. Actually, I take that back. Babies have all the time in the world.

But for the rest of us - especially moms - it's a challenge fitting anything extra between cooking, sleeping, driving, taking care of the kids, helping them with homework, working, taking care of everyone else, cleaning, sneaking in a shower and applying make-up, opening the mail, and checking the weather.


Now my family is super important to me. I love giving them my time.

Art is also important. I go through withdrawal symptoms if I don't do it often.

My problem lies in having a third obsession - a very awesome one. Writing. I love it. It loves me. It makes me happy, just like my family, my friends, and art do. It's just plain fun.

So how on earth is a normal mom to find time to write on a regular basis?

I started asking authors at writers conferences. I ended up with some creative, interesting, painful, and downright scary answers:

- One gave up TV.

- Another called her family in and informed them that writing was now her #1 priority. (I don't recommend this. You'll want someone still there to dedicate your book to when it's published.)

- Another doesn't sleep. And another starts writing at 9:00 p.m. and ends sometime in the middle of the night when her eyelids no longer stay open without toothpick props. (I don't recommend this either.)

- And another gets up at 5:00 a.m., writes to 7:00 a.m., then gets her children ready for school, then gets herself off to school where she teaches all day.

I'm sure you get the picture. It isn't always easy.

Me? Well, I didn't go that far. When my last child was born, I began writing my first novel. I didn't have a schedule - just wrote whenever I could. My goal, newborn and all, was to write for 15 minutes a day. Many days my 15 minutes went quite a bit longer. It was a great surprise when I actually had pages accumulating by the end of the week.

Over the years, my writing goals have changed many times, all custom-suited to my current circumstances. I've had set times, set word counts, set days of the week. I've even tried some kinda drastic things.

Two years ago I gave up most TV (I'm not that good.) And voila, I found more time.

Last year during NaNoWriMo, I tried the 5:00 to 7:00 a.m. thingy. Just for a month. Guess what? There were no interruptions. AT ALL. It was nuts. I got so much done. I also walked around with huge dark circles under my eyes. But, by golly, at the end of November, I had a 50,000 word manuscript, all written in one month (still in need of many, many revisions.) But it felt pretty darn good!

So, long story short, there are all kinds of ways to find time to write - IF you really want to.

Now I'd love to hear how other real people with real lives find their time.

How and when do you do it?


  1. I get tired sometimes of hearing people say "I don't have time", and it's not just writers.

    Everyone has things to do. You make time for what's important to you.

  2. I write during the day when my kids are at school. *ducks* *don't hate me* I KNOW I am very lucky to have this luxury. But I also know a lot of other at-home moms that spend that time cleaning, shopping, exercising, and making really nice meals for their families. Mine eat Mac N Cheese on a regular basis.

    But my kids are home in summer, and not a lot of writing gets done then. I tried the 5a-7a slot - can't do it. I tried staying up - can't do it. I gave up TV for NaNo and that worked pretty well, but that's also time-with-the-hubs.

    It is tough. I have huge respect for anyone that does it, but Andrea is right - you make time for what's important to you.

  3. Andrea, Amen! We all get 24 hours in a day, and we all find time for the things that matter most to us.

    Susan, I remember the day when my youngest started school. I went home and saw all this lovely time laying around. Granted, it was hidden under a pile of laundry, and the mop bucket, but I found it! Yes, you use whatever you can find! BTW, I love Mac N Cheese. : )

  4. I'm still at the Squeeze-it-in-whenever-I-can stage. Hopefully, as my children get older, I'll find more of those moments! :-)

  5. Like Susan I do it when my kids are at school. But during the summer I have to squeeze it in while they're home. The funny thing is I thought I'd get sooooo much more writing done once they all were in school, but I don't. Life keep happening and I still have to make the time. Writing just has to claim a portion of it or I get down right grumpy.

  6. Jonene! Thanks for this wonderful post!

    Right now it is the end of the semester, my grades are due, and I'm moving to a new house next Wednesday, but I STILL WRITE FOR TWO HOURS EVERY DAY. Maybe I'm in denial, but I figure I can stay up late to pack or grade algebra tests if I need to.

    Hasn't always been this way. I've tried binge writing, where I go for weeks without it and then spend a whole day at the computer (not recommended - I forget to feed the kids lunch!). I also learned to type while nursing (worked for one baby, but another was too wiggly). But now all my children are in school, and I have two hours set aside out of my quiet time at home.

  7. Shannon, hang in there. It only gets better!

    Leisha, thank heavens for writing! It's great therapy. I don't know how non-writers survive. But then again, maybe that's why chocolate was invented . . .

    Go, Rebecca! Wow. That's awesome - my hat's off to you!

  8. Today I'm alternating - mark up manuscript until brain is tired, pack stuff until body is tired, mark up manuscript until brain is tired... I could go on all day!

  9. Rebecca, now that's a true workout!

  10. It is such a juggle, isn't it? I think part of it is understanding that to have writing in our lives yet not give up the things that matter the most, we will need to make our peace with the fact that it will happen a little slower than it might for others. But them anything worth doing is worth doing for the long run, right? Have a great weekend!

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  11. I've done the 5-7 slot for the past year and love it. However, if my kids happen to wake up extra early, I turn into beast mom. "Don't you know this is my only time!!!" You get the idea. Then I send them in to snooze with daddy until 7.

    When I became a published author, the MOST common comment I heard was, "I don't know how you find the time." I HATE THIS! To me, it feels like people are saying, "do you neglect your kids?" or "is the Disney Channel on all day long?"

    I usually tell those people this: I don't scrapbook, I don't exercise, I don't deep clean more than a few times a year, I don't do PTA or city council, I'm not an extravagant cook, etc. etc. etc..

    Then they get my point. We all find the time for what we love.

  12. I'm with you, Maggie. Only clean between drafts.

  13. Whereas I've tried to comment here twice and Blogger won't let me. Off to do some writing though - have to limit my time fighting with the computer :-)

  14. Angela, you're right. I learned a lot just by doing 15 minutes a day when I had a newborn: it does add up. And one day, your circumstances change and you'll have more time to write.

    Maggie, thanks for sharing! I'm doing the 5-7 again, and although it's an adjustment, it's also free of interruptions (my kids are older now and like to sleep.) I'm so glad you're published! It's so good to hear from someone balancing being a good mom with being a good writer. (You don't have to be a perfect housekeeper to be a good mom, right?)

    Rebecca, ha ha! That's so true. When I finish each draft, I celebrate by deep cleaning something.

    Emily, I was having problems posting yesterday, too. It took me three tries to get my post up. Have fun writing!

  15. See if it works this time. What I wrote before was that it isn't so much about having a ton of time, but having time that is yours, and that other people respect as yours. I've done the 5am thing, but ever since I've gotten married, I haven't had to. I love being a mother, I take care of the kids all day and do breakfast and lunch, and then when my husband comes home, he takes care of dinner and the kids. Some women say I'm "lucky". Hardly. If they think that's such a great deal, it's their husbands who are lucky.

    I may not make as much as my husband, but that doesn't mean I don't deserve to have time to do work, feel productive and push myself creatively. Just because I had kids doesn't mean I have to be a full time, all benefits included caregiver every *single* second of the day.

    My husband is an equal partner, and he puts in an equal number of hours with the kids by being on duty every evening and all day on the weekends. A lot of couples have two careers. We're lucky that mine allows me to work in the evenings. Having said that, the evenings are mine; interrupting me then is equivalent to someone calling my husband at work and asking him to come home. My biggest problems are always with other people - friends and relatives who don't get our system.

  16. Emily, that's a great system! And when you're kids are grown, how awesome will that be that they had equal time with their dad! Thanks for sharing how you do it. Very inspiring!

  17. I think I heard somewhere 'if you think think you don't have time, you don't have a time problem, you have a priority problem.' This was a great post to help me figure out how to work in my writing priority. Thanks.

  18. Yes, I don't think I've ever had a problem finding time for writing. It's been hard to find time for everything else, though.

  19. Tamara, I like that quote! It's fun finding out how everyone finds their time.

    Rebecca, it's always a balancing act, isn't it? But writing is worth it.

  20. I've had to make some sacrifices. TV is one of them (I have DVR though so I limit the # of shows I watch but can still watch my favorite ones when I have time). The sacrifices are totally worth it!

  21. Ghenet, I couldn't agree more. (And DVR's are wonderful inventions!)

  22. Great post! Time is always an issue with me. I had more time before I decided to become a fulltime writer! But I really love to write. It's a delicate balance of push and pull and balance. Ugh...

  23. Elizabeth, I love the way you phrased that: push and pull and balance! So true.

  24. As a work at home mum, I do the things that have to be done each day and I include in that a slot for creativity, even if it means missing out on sleep. Sleep? Who needs sleep?

    I enjoy reading your blog posts and have awarded you The Versatile Blogger award.

  25. Fi, on behalf of all the amazing writers that post here at Scribbler's Cove, thank you! We're deeply honored!

    And I agree. Being able to express your creativity makes everything else so much better, especially when you're pulled in so many ways. Sleep can wait.


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