Eight Ways a Working Parent Can Find Time to Write
The life of a working parent doesn’t seem conducive to writing at first glance
All right, here’s your day―
You get up, shower, and commute to the office. You work a half day, go to lunch with your co-workers, work another half day, commute back, cook dinner, eat dinner, clean up after dinner, and then bathe your kids. Now it’s 9pm and you’re too tired to think, let alone work on your short story/novel/blog post.
Well I’ve got news for you―you’ve got the time to write, and you’ve got the energy to write―you just need to know where and how to find both.
Here are eight steps to do just this.
Commute to work on public transportation every once in a while, and bring your laptop
The subway and the bus can be your writer’s haven.
Your kids aren’t there yelling at each other, your spouse isn’t there yelling at you, and though a crazy guy next to is yelling at a pair of flip-flops―he is comparatively easy to tune out.
It might take a half longer to get to work, but that’s a half hour more time for you to write. If you don’t live near a subway or bus station, drive to one in the morning, and Park and Ride. Do what you need to do.
Your lunch hour is for you to write, not to chat with your co-workers
It’s noon. Your co-workers are headed to Togo’s and want to bring you along.
Writing is more important than a banal, stilted conversation with Sally from R&D. Bring a sack-lunch, find a place away from prying eyes―and as soon as you’re off the clock, you’re Hemingway.
Talk with your spouse and get an evening to yourself once per week, or even twice
If you’re fortunate enough to still be in a household with a spouse or partner, tell them that you need a writer’s night once per week.
Twice would be even better, but one night a week might be an easier ask at first.
Your spouse takes the kids for an evening, and you go straight to the coffeeshop from work.
Boom, you have a four hour stretch of writing, and you get to skip traffic on the way back home.
Also―make this evening earlier in the week, like Monday or Tuesday.
Things are less likely to come up early in the week, and if they do, it’s easier to reschedule.
Your laptop goes with you wherever you go
You’re at a P.T.A. conference. You’re early and the teacher is late. You can spend thirty minutes checking your smartphone, or thirty minutes writing Historical Fiction about Pope Pius II.
It’s up to you.
Bring your laptop with you wherever you go, and you’d be surprised how easy it is to pop out two hundred words.
Have a 4-hour block on your day off
Embrace the weekend warrior lifestyle. There are four hours on Saturday and/or Sunday that can be yours―mornings are usually best, because if they get filled, they can be rescheduled for later that day.
Set small, achievable goals
If you can’t seem to get things going with your 2-Volume Biography of Spiro Agnew, try writing a short story, or failing that―a poem.
1500 words and a few haikus can come in a week, but an 800-page tome can’t. And remember to post on a blog somewhere―a tangible goal with a definite end is often easier to tackle.
Perhaps the most important tip for finding an hour to write are these two ways of reimagining writing, and reimagining your role as a parent
These last two tips are ways to reconsider yourself, and change the way you think about what you can bring to the world.
Understand that you deserve at least an hour a day to write
There are sixty minutes out there that should be yours, regardless of how much responsibility you have. It’s up to you to find those sixty minutes, but know that you deserve it.
Stop thinking otherwise.
Understand that years from now, your kids will respect you for this
Don’t worry about making it big as an author.
No one outside of JK Rowling makes it big, and your kids won’t care―or even notice―that you’re not a household name.
But they will notice you, and what you are doing.
In 2045, there might be a grown adult thinking back that his mom always seemed to be working on her book.
It won’t matter that you never made it to the bestseller list―though keep in mind, if you find the time to write, this may very well happen.
But regardless of what happens, your kid will have a parent who always wrote, and that will pay dividends―from you showing them your determination, to having them grow up in an intellectual climate―to just showing them how to give something more back to the world.
Your time writing will pay dividends in multiple ways, and will also pay dividends to your children.
In conclusion―you deserve it, and you can do it.
Working parents often take care of someone else for 90% of their waking hours, and that very well may be you.
But at the very least, the last 10% of the day is yours.
It’s up to you to take that time―and keep in mind that you, your children and the readers of the world deserve nothing less.