Thursday, August 13, 2015

Changing your writing routine

Posted by: Sonya Clark
I’m a stay at home mom to a very energetic three year old girl. When I was pregnant with her, my writing routine didn’t change much. I was still able to stay up late to write. She even kept me company with her late night kicks and flips. After she was born, I needed to sleep while she was asleep, so I was going to bed earlier. “Routine” went out the window, at least as far as writing went.

For the first few months, when she took daytime naps, I frequently did too. Gradually I began to use that time to get back into writing. That worked pretty well for some time, since she napped pretty often. As she grew into a toddler and took fewer naps, I had to adjust again. First it was just two naps a day, now she’s down to one, and sometimes it’s only an hour. Whereas before I wrote mostly at night, with earbuds in and music appropriate for the current manuscript playing, I’ve had to learn to write any time I got the chance. If I can have music playing – great. If the soundtrack is provided by Dora The Explorer – I have to deal with it. If I can sit down and focus entirely on the manuscript – great. If my focus is split between the story and keeping an eye on Kidlette – I deal with it. If I can work for an hour or more – great. If it takes an hour to finish a paragraph because my daughter needs snacks/juice/mommy’s attention – I deal with it.

Break time, Mommy!
And you know what? It’s worked out fine. Instead of looking at it as an interruption to my writing time, I look at it as taking a fun break with my little girl. Every transition has been a little rough at first, but ultimately it’s always worked out. It is easier to write when my daughter is asleep, but I can get a little work in during the day now that she’s old enough to play by herself some. I’ve taken to staying up late again some nights, though I can’t do too many nights in a row of that or I’m too tired to keep up with her. A few times a week I’ll let myself write late at night. The rest of the time I write mostly in the evenings, after she’s gone to bed but before I need to go to bed. My husband is great about helping me get more writing time on the weekends by stepping in and being the go-to parent.

I don’t always have a high daily word count, and I’ve found that I need more time between books to refill the creative well. Balancing writing and parenthood doesn’t always go perfectly smooth, but I’ve learned to roll with it. Next year she’ll go to pre-school for four hours a day and then we’ll both get used to a new routine again.

Changing your writing routine isn't always easy, but sometimes you have no choice. My advice - roll with it. Give yourself time to figure out what works best now, and don't dwell too much on what worked best before. Try different things, take small steps, and don't feel bad if it takes you awhile to get back up to your old daily word count.

Fellow writers, have you had a major life change after you started writing, one that forced a change in how and when you write? Like parenthood, or maybe a new job? How did you manage the transition to a new routine? I’m sure this is something we’ve all been through or will go through at some point. I’d love to hear about your experiences, plus any tips you’d like to share!

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