Parent? Hopeful, Newbie Writer? How to Find Time for Your Passion
Finding the time to do anything, like pee by yourself, can seem impossible as a parent, especially as a parent of small children. So, how do you do it? How do you sit down to actually write, let alone write something coherent? Or, *gasp* good?
I’ve been writing for fifteen years, but never made any serious attempts to publish until about six months ago. My child is preschool age, and I’m also a caretaker for a family member with Alzheimer’s, and another one with a cocktail of health problems. Neither of these three dependents can drive, either.
How do I do it? Well, after plucking the newest strands of grey hairs on my head in the A.M., I have a strong drink.
Of coffee, duh.
But really, this may seem counter intuitive, you may scoff at the suggestion, you may think I’m full of it, you may think it impossible, but the key is GET ENOUGH SLEEP.
I mean it. You can’t plan a story well, you can’t create compelling characters, and sure as sh*t can’t write anything remotely coherent if you are a zombie. It’s also so hard to get motivated when you are exhausted. Plus, it is just bad for your health to run on empty all the time. Please take care of yourself.
I know some of you have the misfortune of having a colicky baby. I am so sorry. My son didn’t sleep for a year after he was born. It was tough. When I get all nostalgic and broody and compelled to have another, I think back to that first year and get PTSD flashbacks and check the bank account. Hm, can I afford a tubal ligation. . .?
But, that first year of his life was when I got back into writing. That first year was when I started on the first volume of the Nefarious series. It gave me back my identity.
Sometimes as a parent, especially when the kids are little, you don’t feel like a person. Even though I was a mess and had no idea what I was doing as a new mom, finding my passion again gave me a little confidence back and kept me sane during that first year. Finally, I knew what I was doing.
How do I get enough sleep?
I hardly ever watch T.V. Maybe 20 minutes here and there, and usually just to fall asleep to. If I do want to watch a movie, it usually takes me three to four days to finish a standard 1.5 hour-long video because I will watch it in small chunks.
It helps that I’m an introvert, but I don’t go out much. I don’t need to, I don’t really want to. Relationships are important, yes, but I only make time for the ones that are really meaningful and ADD to my life.
I make people come to me, I don’t usually go to them. This saves me ton of time because I’m not out driving, dealing with traffic, etc. Your friends who add to your life and love and support you will come to you.
Speaking of friends and relationships, don’t waste your time on people who don’t add to your life, who don’t support you, who just take and take and bring you down. This is toxic for the creative spirit. It will stifle you. Be careful who you let into your life. The health of your relationships is truly the yardstick for your overall happiness and life satisfaction.
Trust me, you don’t need a ton of friends, you just need good ones.
The only time I use social media is for writing and publishing related things. I use it to forge meaningful relationships with other authors, market my new releases, and find promotions and newsletter swaps to participate in. I don’t use it to piddle away precious time fighting about politics. That’s just silly and doesn’t help anyone. Don’t get sucked into social media drama. Just go vote. That’s the only thing that effects change anyway.
Cat videos are awesome, but limit them to one a day.
I ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And you know what, don’t be afraid to demand it in some cases, either. You are a parent, not the be all end all of your child’s life. It’s okay to have someone else take them out for a little bit. It’s all right to let them have some screen time here and there in order for you to get your stuff done. Don’t listen to all the naysayers who claim, with no real authority whatsoever, that your kid will end up an unemployed serial killer if you aren’t June Cleaver. Your life has meaning too, you know.
Like I mentioned earlier, I started writing the Nefarious series when my child was just a baby. I started out small. A paragraph here, a rough, bullet-point outline there.
I give you permission to take small steps. I also give you permission to scrap the idea of novels and concentrate on shorter works — flash fiction, novelettes, short stories. My brain was far too fried as the mother of a newborn to really do longer works, so I started out with flash fiction, and have now worked my way up to novellas. There is a market for short stories, especially ones in serial form.
This whole writing thing is like putting a drop of water in an empty bucket. Each word is the drop. Eventually, the bucket will overflow. It’s just time compounded.
Keep at it. If you don’t, you will regret it. You will seriously regret not doing what you wanted to do with your life. Time stops for no one. It doesn’t care if you are a parent, it just doesn’t care. You have to seize time by the balls.
Cut out some of the stuff you feel obligated and pressured to do that only makes you miserable and stressed.
It’s okay to say no.
I repeat, it’s okay to say no.
And honestly, most people have their heads so far up their own bums they won’t really notice you’re not taking on all that extra, thankless work. Live your life aligned with your values, not someone else’s.
I’ll give you an example.
When my former husband and I got engaged and were planning our wedding, we wanted something small and ‘traditional.’ Maybe two dozen people. Nothing fancy, nothing big and bombastic. Well, once everyone heard the news, they all felt the need to put in their .02 cents about how we should have our wedding. They wanted to invite people from across the country that neither of us had seen for years, distant cousins and the like. Oh, and they had a lot to say about the menu, and the music, ad nauseum.
So, we just went to the courthouse and tied the knot in front of the magistrate and didn’t tell anyone. Like hell we wanted or needed all that extra stress of planning some big to-do that other people insisted on and we didn’t really want.
And you know what? No one really cared once they found out we’d eloped. But all the unnecessary whinging and unsolicited suggestions given when we were planning our wedding was just ridiculous and I wasn’t going to deal with it. Like I said, I’m an introvert. The idea of some party with all eyes on me that I had to plan and pay for was my idea of a special kind of personal hell.
So, I give you permission to say no in order to advance your dream of becoming a writer.
Use a crockpot.
It saves you a lot of time prepping, cooking, and cleaning up after meal time. Thank me later.
So, to recap:
Get enough sleep.
Start now, start small.
Quite all the thankless, unnecessary work.
Be selective of your inner circle.
Use a crockpot.
Good luck, and happy writing!