Ok, you just did something really hard. You might be getting back on your feet after having a baby or after stepping on a race car that your precious child left on the kitchen floor. Either way, your responsibilities and the calls for your attention just increased enormously, but for the sake of yourself and of your family, you are striving to keep doing what you love.
Session Goals, Space, and a Set Time are the elements that can help you keep writing even as your life is being turned upside down. What makes these things important is that they all clear the way for you to be able to get down to writing. If you’re looking for tips on content, check out our Character Development, Plot Development, and World Building sections on the menu above.
Know what you’re going to write about ahead of time. This can be as specific or loose as you like and it will change depending on what stage your story is in. The important thing is to walk into your writing session having already decided that you’re going to tackle a certain problem/scene. Length can be an element in your goal, but try to make each session’s goal story-based instead of a word count because story is more likely to compel you to write. It also helps to have an organized cache of thoughts and ideas for reference.
Have a space set aside for your writing. This may be a spot in your home or a certain coffee shop, but wherever it is, know where you will write. Basically your goal is to pre-make any decisions that need to be made before you can get to writing.
The kind of space and what you have in it is also important in maximizing your writing time, so think about where you work best and if there’s anything you can do to prepare it beforehand. This might be keeping a separate writing bag for coffee shops where all of your materials live or simply setting aside a mug and tea bag so you can get to your writing that much faster.
Choose a specific time to write. This can be a time period, like the first hour after your baby goes to bed, or a clock time, but designate a chunk of time to writing only and stick to it. Let no cleaning, coordinating, or grocery shopping impinge on it– this is your sacred time for writing and writing alone! Setting these kinds of boundaries (and sticking to them) will do wonders for your well-being and sense of self, not to mention for your book.
Life gets in the way of consistent writing time, so here are a few strategies to nail it down:
- Set up a kid swap with a friend
- Get a babysitter (neighbor pre-teens are especially good for this if you want them to watch your kiddo but you’ll be somewhere in the house)
- Find a business with complimentary or cheap childcare (Ikea, some grocery stores, gyms– local mom boards and Facebook groups are a good resource for finding these in your area)
- Establish an evening or time during the weekend that your spouse takes full responsibilities for your kids
- Wake up early
I do not suggest making nap time your main writing time because naps are fickle and this is all about setting a consistent routine, but naps can be one of the ways to squeeze in extra writing time.
Just Two More Things…
Set out your priorities, either aloud or in writing. Things have shifted drastically in your life– family dynamics, responsibilities, finances, and possibly careers have changed and you need to re-establish where writing falls into the mix. If you don’t, it’s easy for writing to get bumped in the name of cleaning or reading how to make super baby food.
Find a cheerleader (different from a writing accountability partner). You probably already have a fan, but now you need a vocal one to help you value your writing in the midst of a lot of other pulls for your time. This is important.
This may mean reaching out and opening up to that person and asking for encouragement on a regular basis, which is a vulnerable thing but it will carry you through this new season.
I hope these tools help you set up a framework and routine for yourself that allow you to write consistently and keep growing as a writer even while you’re raising a growing child.
Abigail, with an 11mo old sitting on her lap spraying the remains of a saltine in a 180 degree arc and making a grab for her laptop, signing off.