Preslaysa: Life with small children comes with many challenges. There have been many times I walked the grocery store aisle with my two energetic children with a dazed, deer-in-headlights mama look on my face. Well-meaning people would come up to me and say: “Oh these are the best years of your life. Enjoy those little ones.” I’d think to myself: Umm, it’s kind of tough to enjoy anything right now when my son is wielding a breakable bottle of Kikkoman Soy Sauce and my daughter has maneuvered her way out of the child straps in the shopping cart.
But who am I to complain?
Aside from these (very frequent) moments, I enjoy being around my children. They are cute and funny and shockingly wise at times. I also enjoy writing. For me, these two activities have shaped the grown up version of me (Preslaysa: version 2.0). However, it’s a daily challenge to squeeze in the mothering and the writing in one day. When I awaken each morning an internal clock starts its countdown. This internal clock reminds me I have only so many hours to do the following:
· Quiet Time
· Fill my daily writing quota
· Fill my daily editing quota
· Do any social media/blog promotion tasks
· Do homeschool lessons with the children
· Read some good storybooks to the children
· Oversee and assist my son’s violin practice
· Oversee and train my children to do a simple chore or two
· Manage the inevitable child tantrum(s) or sibling squabble(s).
· Do my daily chores
· Do my weekly chores
· Update the budget, pay bills, etc.
· Read a novel
· And oh yeah, take a shower, brush my teeth and get dressed or something…
I’m pretty sure you, Mama Writer, have a pretty full plate too. Here are 5 ways to ensure you thrive both as a mom and as a writer.
1) Have a dedicated writing space. As moms, we spend a lot of time in giving mode and very little time nurturing our creative spirit. Set aside a space in your home that is off limits to children. A “room of your own” to quote Virginia Woolf. It doesn’t have to be a full room, but a small desk or table away from the main activity of the family will do. You don’t always have to write in that space, of course, but knowing it’s waiting for you provides a psychological boost. You are telling yourself that the work you do as a writer matters, regardless of whether you are published or pre-published.
2) Steal time. This is one of my favorite techniques for writing. When my children are playing or eating or napping, I pull out my handy dandy notebook and start writing, or I’ll pull out a page from a rough draft and start editing. These little moments add up quickly.
3) Carry a notebook or index cards around with you. Collect ideas for stories or blog posts, lines of dialogue, character snippets, and rough scene outlines for later use. This will help guard against that mythical idea called “writer’s block.” When you sit down to write, you’ll have a bunch of ideas ready to flesh out. If you use index cards, make sure they are attached to a ring binder for ease of use.
4) Use a Timer. I *heart* timers. It keeps me on track during the day. I have two timers: one for upstairs and one for downstairs. I also have a timer on my wristwatch. (I’m a little obsessive about timers!) For 2015, I recently found a great Google Extension called Stay Focused which will block me out of social media sites after I filled my daily time limit quota on sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. I tell you, Stay Focused made me quickly prioritize how I spend my time on social media! These tools alone have kept me more focused and less idle. They’ve empowered me to actually do the work that shapes my greater calling as a wife, mom and writer.
5) Use checklists. I am also a checklist person. It’s not because I am particularly organized; I am quite the opposite. Checklists are my taskmaster. I’ve created a checklist that maps out my normal morning, afternoon and evening routines. I don’t follow my checklists to a T, and that’s okay. I can go to bed with and unfinished checklist and not have any guilt. I have another day to accomplish those tasks. However, if I didn’t have the checklist there to remind me, I’d be all scrambled up! Checklists simply tell me to do what matters whenever I am prone to get lost in the World Wide Web. Checklists are a girl’s best friend.
There you have it: five easy ways to manage a writing life and motherhood. What have you done to manage this Great Balancing Act?
Preslaysa Williams (pronounced press-lay-suh) is a novelist and expert multi-tasker. She writes and edits fiction while her children nap and reads novels during her (almost) daily walks. A 2013 ACFW Genesis finalist and a 2014 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist, she writes inspirational romance and middle grade fiction of the happily ever after sort. Visit her online at www.preslaysa.com