A great way to combine your writing with your children is to let them help. Let them be apart of your books and your business. My kids love when I share ideas for the story I'm working on. They love when I ask their opinions and they love to help. This last weekend, at my recent book signing, my oldest daughter wanted to come. My initial reaction was to tell her no. But the more I thought about it, I realized it would be a great opportunity to spend some time with her as well as for her to see her mom in action. She was a big help and we had an awesome time together!
To be a successful writer, it's important to take a night off once a week. I know what you're thinking. In my last post, I said to not take time off and to write every day. Well, despite the appearance, I'm not actually contradicting myself. A lot of people work 40 hour weeks. Some people work 60 hour weeks or even more. There are 168 hours in a week. Even the busiest tycoon doesn't work all of them. We all need our weekends or days off to relax and catch up on other things. It's how we keep balance in our lives.
Every Friday night is date night with my husband. No matter what is going on, we both take the night off and spend that time with each other. Some Fridays we put the kids to bed and cuddle on the couch with a movie. Other Friday nights we hire a sitter and go out. No matter what we do, we have set aside that time for each other and our relationship. Taking that night off helps my brain to recharge and relax, and in the end, actually makes me more productive the rest of the week.
I still try and squeeze some time in on Friday afternoon to fulfill my "write every day" philosophy. However, I do not think about my WIP (work in progress) at all that night.
I also take time off from writing when I've had a new baby. Which is why I haven't been writing as much lately. Just like any mom who goes to work, it's important to take maternity leave. It's okay to take time off to recover both physical and mentally from childbirth. As women, we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Relax. It's okay. Those first couple months are exhausting, as well as crucial to bonding with your new little person. Cut yourself some slack and enjoy the snuggles. Your book will be waiting for you when maternity leave ends.
If you ever want to make it as an author, you can't have the attitude of "I'll write when I have time." Guess what? You'll find yourself a ninety year old woman on her deathbed wondering where all the time went. If you want to write, you have to make the time for it.
I've already covered priorities and breaking up tasks. Once those are in place, it's easier to make time to write. When I'm doing my daily tasks, the kids are with me, doing their jobs and helping. Once the work is done, I reward them with "TV time". They can watch a show for a little while and I can get some writing in guilt-free. If your children nap, this is also a fantastic time to write. Your daily tasks are already done (priorities) now sit back and write while the house is quiet. But...if you're like me, my children don't nap :P They all stopped between 18 months and age 2, so that's not an option in my home. If your kids want to be near you while you write, have a box of special toys that you only pull out during writing time. Let them play and explore with the awesome new toys while you sneak a few extra minutes.
You can also use all the "dead moments" in your busy day to work on outlining, brainstorming, marketing, or free writing. For example: waiting at the doctor's office, waiting in line to pick up kids from school, while in the shower, etc. If I spend my free moments thinking about my current book, by the time I sit down, I already know what I'm going to write, so I don't waste time sitting and pondering.
After bed is my typical writing time. I try and get a couple hours in once kids are all kissed and tucked in. And since I've spent the majority of the day already marketing and brainstorming my next scene, I can just sit down and take off.
Even when you have packed days and busy evenings and it seems nearly impossible to write, never stop. Write a little bit every day. Even if all you get is one sentence, that is still progress! And in the end, you'll end up with a book!
I am a prime example of why prioritizing is necessary. Every time I teach a class on balancing motherhood and authorship, I stress the importance of not taking on too much. Then what do I do? I set the greatest example of what NOT to do.
If you've noticed, I haven't posted a new "Mommy Mondays" in a couple months. The month of October was insane! I decided it would be a good idea to help out at my kids' schools as much as possible before the baby comes in January. So I ended up heading a PTA activity for the entire school, helping plan and execute the Reflections contest at the school, help plan and participate in both their Halloween parties, and I was in charge of a big activity for my church, and my illustrator finished my next children's book, so I had to release that. Needless to say, I was busy. My poor kids watched way too much Netflix and I became sick with stress. This is why you don't take on too much.
My next novel was also supposed to release last weekend, but because October was so busy, I had to push my deadlines back a month. I have learned my lesson. I will follow my own advice from now on. I can not do everything. I need to prioritize and let some things go.
I've gotten a little behind in posts. I've been busy with book events and it's actually these events that have inspired tonight's post. If you want to be a professional author, you need to have a supportive spouse. Not just a spouse who thinks everything you write is brilliant, but a person who fully and completely believes in your career. When you first start out, it's going to cost money. Whether you're published with a big publishing house or you do it on your own, you are in charge of your own marketing. And marketing costs money. Writing retreats, conferences, book signings, the candy you put on the table beside your books while you attend expos and events, all of these things cost money. If your spouse does not believe in your career, spending family money will turn into a big problem.
I have thankfully reached a point in my career where I am self-sustained. I don't spend a dime of family money for anything book related. But it took me a little while and several books to reach this point. My incredible husband never complained once. Whenever I was worried about the cost of books or an event, he would always tell me he knew I would earn it back. And you know what? I did.
You also need a supportive husband who will allow you not only time to write, but time to sell. My husband helps a couple hours a week with the kids so I can have some non-late writing time. He also takes the kids for two weekends a year (including using his vacation time at work) so I can attend writing retreats. I make time for my husband so we can cultivate and continue to build our relationship. We have a date night once a week and a couple nights a week I write for a little less time so I can still spend quality time with him. But he also doesn't give me a guilt trip when I say I need to write tonight. He understands how important my career is and I can't have that career without adequate time to write.
It's important for your husband to have his own hobbies too. My husband loves to play video games. I'm not a gamer at all. So the nights I work, he plays, and neither of us feel guilty because we both get to do things we love and also make time to do things together.
Whenever I have a book signing, it's usually an all-day event. It's even oftentimes a two day event. Again, my husband has to use his precious vacation time at work to take Friday off. He has to play mom and dad to our three awesome kids, which is super exhausting! But he does it with a smile, he kisses me as I walk out the door, and he never questions me. Whether I sell one book or fifty books, he always makes me feel successful. And you can't get any better than that.