In my perfectly put together pre-parenting phase, I had an inkling to write fiction, but I couldn’t execute my dream.
Spending all day, every day, with an infant was grueling, tough work. Changing diapers, managing (or trying to manage) naps, and attempting to squeeze in that essential daily shower left me with a serious brain fry. I needed an outlet. Quick. So I powered up my computer and embarked on the long, winding journey to writing a novel.
I once told another mom about my writing “hobby,” and she advised I put the writing on hold until my children were out of the house for good. I refused to put my dreams on hold, but the realities of writing with children had ballooned into a huge challenge I had to face. I needed a plan.
To successfully juggle books and babies, busy parents need to first conquer two mental barriers:
- Get Rid of the Guilt Over Not Writing Enough. Now.
- See All Writing Progress as GOOD Writing Progress.
Writing with Babies: The Logistics
With those barriers out of the way, I devised strategy that suited my life. The method came through trial and error, so I’ve saved you a couple of years of angst!
- Have a dedicated writing space (or a dedicated writing bag!)
My writing bag contains:
-A Flash Drive
-Multi-colored highlighters and pens a-la Margie Lawson’s EDITS system
-My Netbook and charger
-A kitchen timer
-My small notebook (I use this notebook for writing practice.)
-My other small notebook (I use this for hand writing my current work in progress.)
-A folder with some hardcopy pages of my work in progress
-A writing craft book
-A novel or non-fiction book
a. Method #1: “The Catch Me When You Can Method”
This method is good for parents with infants (or non-napping older children), family road trips or anytime you are off your normal routine. I came up with this technique when I had a newborn. The baby didn’t have a schedule in the beginning, and I certainly didn’t want to wait until he got one to start writing.
I carried my writing bag around with me and wrote whenever I could. I set a realistic daily writing goal on an index card and placed it in my folder. For instance, I’d write on an index card: “I complete 250 words today.” Underneath, I’d have tick marks which I would check off whenever I reached a fifty word milestone. I loved the feeling of checking off those tick marks during the day. As I got better, I increased the daily goal. I also did this for editing pages after the first draft was done.
With this method, pre-planning will help a great deal. If you’re a seat-of-the-pants writer, quickly sketch out a scene. If you’re a plotter, you can delve into a more intricate plan. Either way, pre-planning and writing in those snatches of time will add up.
b. Method #2: “Dedicated Time Method”
This method is best for when your children are on a regular nap/quiet time schedule, when your children attend school, or when you have a regular routine. It basically involves setting a writing appointment and sticking to it.
There are some caveats to this method. First, make sure you are well rested the night before. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself sleeping when you should be writing. (This has happened to me!)
Second, set a kitchen timer during your writing appointment so you won’t get distracted by other stuff.
Third, have a goal for that writing session and do whatever it takes to meet your goal. There have been many times when I planned to write or edit a certain amount only to have half an hour left on my timer. Surprisingly, I’d become very prolific and creative during that last half hour.
There you have it folks. You can juggle babies and books. Don’t put it off any longer. WRITE.
Question for You: If you’re a busy writer-parent, what changes do could you make to become a more efficient writer?
Step up and comment for a chance to receive a $10 Starbucks card. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.
BIO: Preslaysa Williams (pronounced ‘press-lay-suh’) is a freelance writer, editor and an all-around expert multi-tasker…sometimes! She writes and edits fiction while her children nap and reads novels during her (almost) daily walks. When she’s not multi-tasking, you can find her rebooting a load of laundry or pondering whether to clear those dust bunnies under the couch. A 2013 ACFW Genesis finalist, Preslaysa writes inspirational romance and middle grade fiction of the happily ever after sort. You can find her online at www.preslaysa.com where she blogs regularly about faith, family fiction and mommy-brain randomness.