Monday, March 4, 2013

Time, Guilt, and a Family Night by Peter Leavell

Peter Leavell
Fellow writers have a great capacity for understanding what our lives are like, don't they? That's why critique groups and conferences are excellent investments. We're excited to have the winner of the 2011 Operation First Novel: Christian Writer's Guild, Peter Leavell, visit this month and share tidbits of life as a writer. He'll be here every Monday to encourage us. Enjoy! ~ Annette

Time, Guilt, and a Family Night 
by Peter Leavell

When holding a job, trying to find extra time to hold your spouse, and even less time to get a hold on how fast your kids are growing, finding time to write is a chore.

First, there’s guilt from consuming time away from your family simply to write. Especially if you don’t know if it’s publishable. And second, there’s guilt for taking time away from your writing to spend time with family.

So, something’s got to give.

Family Vs. Writing

Every family’s different. Some with one hundred children, some with many less. Sometimes you have a spouse to think of. Or parents. Siblings. All need the attention that you give your characters, if not more.

You must tackle the guilt. Writing is important. Extremely important. But so is the family. Your emotions may teeter back and forth to either one, but both play critical roles in your life. You wouldn’t be who you are without your family or your writing.

Almost every author, Jerry B. Jenkins and other incredible writers included, advises us all the same way. If you can live your life without writing, do it. Writing must be an obsession. There’s no dabbling, no tinkering to see if you like it or not. Either you must do it, or get out.

But if you can’t stop writing, it’s time to make a deal with your spouse. Here’s what I made with mine.

One Way to Do It

I can’t write at work, so I write at home. On a white board, I use a chart to keep track of words. It varies from 1000 a day to 3000. My family can see it. So if they give me time, and I don’t produce, they have every right to be upset. When I hit 10,000, I take a night off and devote it to the family. Not just a "let’s watch a move" night, but a game night or bird watching or bowling night. Something where we interact. And then that night I give my wife my full attention. She talks. I listen.

But guilt about not writing that night creeps in. I swat it with a glance at the board. 10,000 words. Another 7 or 10 of those, and we’ve a novel to rewrite or to fire off to the agent.

What works for you?


Gideon's Call
Author Peter Leavell forges an unprecedented tale of tragedy and triumph amid the backdrop of the Civil War through the story of Tad, a very clever slave boy who comes of age as America’s war reaches the sea islands of South Carolina. Tad’s desire to better himself is obstructed by the color of his skin, until Northern soldiers force the evacuation of white plantation owners, setting 10,000 slaves free in a single day. These circumstances seem like a dream, except that the newly freed slaves have no money, no education, and little hope for the future—unless someone rises up to lead them. Based on true events, Gideon’s Call, is the dramatic tale of a young man who battles the shame of his past and faces the horrors of war and unimaginable prejudice to become the deliverer of thousands of freed slaves.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at and on his Facebook page:

(print)       (e-book)