‘How on earth did you find time to write a novel? You’ve got kids!’
This is a question I have been asked frequently since publishing my debut novel, The Girl who Came Home.
I sometimes wonder myself! But, having wondered, I’ve realised that when you have a passion to do something, there isn’t much which will prevent you from doing it – even time itself!
Yes, I regularly complain about there not being enough hours in the day and I wish I could escape to a writer’s retreat for three months of uninterrupted writing time, but, well, as a work-at-home mum of two, that just isn’t going to happen! So, back in the real world, here are my top 10 ways to create time, even when there doesn’t seem to be any.
1) Write while the dinner is cooking. Seriously, once everything’s bubbling away, rather than stand there endlessly stirring, I will often grab twenty minutes – sometimes only ten – to write a few more paragraphs. It may not be much (and the dinner may burn in the process), but it’s something, and those paragraphs add up over the week.
2) Write in the shower (not literally). For some reason, great moments of inspiration hit me when I’m showering. I keep a notepad in the bathroom so I can scribble ideas down as soon as I’m out of the shower. I have also been known to jump out, scribble down the idea, and jump back in again! I honestly find if I don’t capture it there and then, I will get distracted and start doing something else and forget!
3) Turn off the TV. Honestly, you won’t miss it and this, for me, is a guaranteed way to get quality writing time when the kids are in bed. I may not have a notion about the plot line in Grey’s Anatomy or Desperate Housewives, but I’m writing a novel, so who cares?!
4) Get up early. It may feel like the greatest sacrifice known to mankind, voluntarily waking yourself before the kids do, but really there is nothing nicer than stealing thirty minutes of peaceful writing time before anyone else in the house is awake. Word of warning: the kettle will sound like a steam train as it boils for your morning cup of tea or coffee, but you need that hot drink so don’t let the noise put you off – it won’t wake the kids. Honestly.
5) Busy children = busy writer. If the children are happily occupied, take the opportunity to write. I’m not talking about hours or days here – literally minutes. As mothers we continually feel guilty about not spending enough time with our children, (even if we haven’t left their side for 24 hours!). Grabbing twenty minutes to write, while they are engrossed in building a Lego spaceship (a task for which, they have decided, you are simply not qualified to be of any help to them) is perfectly acceptable in my book.
6) Ignore the housework. This may be one of the hardest parts of writing if you are a domestic goddess, but if you are serious about writing 100,000 words, something is going to have to give. It may pain you to step over the pile of laundry which has taken root in the corner of the kitchen, but you will honestly not care when you see your novel being read by actual people!
7) Turn down social invitations. Not all of them and not forever, but if you’re going through a good writing patch, keep the momentum going. Your friends won’t mind if you explain why you can’t make the movie with them this time.
8) Set yourself a writing target. When I’m in serious writing mode, I try to write 2,000 words a day. This definitely won’t happen in one writing spurt and will be made up of a few hundred words here and there throughout the day, with the majority being written before the kids wake up or after they go to bed. It’s a great discipline to set yourself and you’d be surprised how much you can get written if you keep working to that daily target.
9) Go outside. Fresh air, running in the park, pushing your kids on a swing, kicking a ball with them – it all gives you head space to think about your story and develop plot ideas. You may not be physically writing, but often, time away from the screen is exactly what you need to recharge the batteries and you will be much more productive when you get back to it.
10) Read. Reading is an important part of writing. It’s important to keep on top of what is popular and to experience different writing styles and different genres. I find that there is no better motivation to keep writing than to read a fabulous book you adore and wish that you’d written. For me, it is this that keeps the dream alive and keeps me tapping away at the kitchen table.
So, don’t spend your time wishing you had more time to write – find time and use it wisely!
Parenting blog Hot Cross Mum
Writing blog Whims and Tonic
or check out her Amazon author page.
Update, August 2013. Please note that THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME is currently unavailable to purchase. It will be republished in paperback and ebook formats by William Morrow Books (HarperCollins) in April 2014. To follow Hazel’s writing news and to receive updates on her books and author events, please visit www.whimsandtonic.com
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