Balancing writing, family, and a full time job

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned while tackling my current WIP is how to better allocate my time.  This seems like a simple enough task, but for me, it has been a long-standing struggle.  I didn’t want to give up precious time spent with my family, couldn’t quit the full time job, and refused to give up on writing, so where did that leave me?

It left me with a great need for organization.  I have always been a go-with-the-flow kind of person, always willing to restructure my plans or come up with a last minute idea to make it all work, but that type of mindset was not only crushing my creativity, but leaving me with an overall sense of mental exhaustion.

I tried to use my one hour commute to ramp up plotlines and character motivations, but would soon stress over what needed to get done at work and how impossible it seemed to achieve.  Then I tried to set aside time at home to write after everyone went to sleep, but being tired myself, I found it easier than ever to let it slide, telling myself, I’d figure it out tomorrow.  Then I would repeat the whole routine the next day, and the next day, and the next after that, until I managed to become an efficient procrastinator.

So something had to change.  First, I needed to carve out time to write, allowing myself to be able finish a first draft.  I figured out how to do that when I discovered the power of getting up one hour earlier. I know, genius concept, right?  But for me, it was unusually difficult to get up five minutes earlier, let alone a full hour. 

Second, I set my goal, not at a certain word count per day, but estimated how many more chapters I have left based on my outline, and started the countdown.  It has made all the difference in my writing routine.  That full hour to write while the kids are asleep and while I have a fresh outlook on the day have allowed my creativity to flourish.  And the price paid for this? The small sacrifice of turning in a little earlier the night before.

This small process change helped me conquer the last ten thousand words, so I thought I would share in case it can help anyone else.


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