Being the mother of two spirited munchkins under the age of three, while working full-time, can be quite the handful as many of my fellow parents know. Add in a pinch of writing, with a dash of self-publishing, and you have a whole new recipe for craziness. My heart thanks me for taking this leap, even if there are days when my sanity has not.
Balancing these different hats so to speak can be tricky, but the reward of being able to share my stories, my own worlds, with other avid readers, outweighs the pitfalls along the way. Ten years ago, I would never have imagined being my own publisher. With ever advancing technology, the world of books has changed. For those like myself who seek to juggle a passion for writing, family, and a job that primarily pays the bills, finding that balance is possible, with good old fashion hard work.
Today, I’m going to share some insight, and tips, on how I manage my own little piece of chaos. The first, and perhaps the most important, is making time to write. The saying ‘there are only so many hours in a day’ has never been truer.
While working on The Dragon Sage, I discovered writing my first draft by hand worked the best. At home is more or less the only time I can access a computer. Therefore, sticking to the tried and true art of long hand, I’m able to scribble a few lines whenever I find a spare moment. Whether sitting in my car before going into work, during my lunch break, or even by the time clock, I’m known for pulling whatever paper I’m doodling on out of my pocket, and jotting as much as I’m able. I still laugh at some of the places, or times, I’ve come up with ideas for my novels, or even books to come. The notebook by my bed and pages in the bathroom are proof of this. Luckily my husband doesn’t mind.
Once I start writing, the next hurdle is keeping up with it. We’ve all started working on something and then for one excuse or another, left our project only partially completed. For this reason, I give myself mini deadlines. Making a practical goal is important, and I emphasize the practical part. A full-time author, spending six to eight hours a day writing, may be able to finish a novel in six months or less, but for us multi-taskers, it’s probably not going to happen. From pen to publish, my last work took about two years. Each month I give myself a number of pages I want to finish, and work towards it. If I happen to find some extra time in a week to write more, I run with it, but if it’s a busy time with birthdays, meet-the-teacher nights, or nasty colds, I do what I can. Goals are meant to be flexible, like getting my kids to daycare with both shoes still on instead of just one.
This brings me to a subject I personally have the most difficult time tackling: not stressing. Things happen in which no one has control over. Kids get sick, you get stuck late at work, or the pile of laundry in front of the washer starts shouting your name. Staying close to my self-made deadlines helps to keep me on track. But when my anxiety got to the point where I was getting chest pains, or couldn’t sleep at night, it was time to take a step back. Remember, don’t just take care of your family, take care of yourself too.
This takes me to my last helpful hint: set aside time for yourself. This may sound contradictory to ‘finding time to write’, but every once in a while we all need some ‘me’ time. My favorite guilty pleasure is watching a movie after the kids are tucked in, or curling up to read a good book with a dog on my lap and a cat purring by my head. Being able to destress is a great solution for writers-block and overall, I’ve learned from experience that I write better without the anxiety.
There are days when it may take all I have just to wade through the chaos, but I enjoy the challenge of creating a new character, or choreographing a fight scene. What helped me was coming up with a plan and adjusting it as needed. I took things one page at a time, then before I knew it I had two published novels and am working on a third. Until next time.