Little Ones and Writing: Finding a Balance
About ten months ago, something incredible happened. My wife gave birth to our first child. The months since that day have been filled with a new, special kind of joy that has filled this father’s heart to the brim. I wouldn’t trade a moments spent with him for anything in the world and his smile can melt my heart after even the longest day at work.
And a good portion of that free time I once had is now gone, spent cheerfully with him. Which means something else I would have previously done gets set aside. And, sadly, many times that activity is writing.
I’d like to stand up and say that I’ve figured out a magical way to stretch those few moments of me-time into dedicated writing sessions. But I can’t. The hard, honest truth is that writing is only as much of a priority as you make it. With working two jobs, spending quite time with my wife, and bonding with my son, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to write like I used to. It has been displaced by something far more important and satisfying.
But I have learned a few things along the way, which is starting to allow me to get at least a little more writing accomplished.
Utilize a cloud-based service like Google Docs
I used to write in one location: at my desk in the basement office. It was my go-to place. I’d throw on headphones, open Spotify, and throw on the Lord of the Rings soundtracks or a Brunuhville playlist and write away. I spent months after my son’s birth attempting to find the moments to write in that same setting, yet they were about as rare as snow in May. Sure, they happened from time to time, but never often enough to really make a dent in what I wanted to accomplish.
Using Google Docs, I can work on things even when I am away from home. I can take a laptop or tablet and work on writing during a lunch hour at work. I can use my tablet and find those downtime moments when we’re traveling to get things accomplished. Some of my biggest sessions have come while away from home, but they never would have happened without a way to access the documents from multiple devices.
Steal moments for writing, whether large or small
I used to try and wait for when I could dedicate at least 30 minutes toward writing. Anything shorter than that would feel like an unproductive session, so if I had a smaller window I would instead work on a blog post or check social media. But even a 30-minute window can be hard to come by. But in a given day I can usually come up with three 10-minute windows of time to write. It is arguable as to whether the same amount of work gets done when the sessions are split like that, but at least I know progress is being made whether I am hammering out a few sentences or a page in that allotted time.
Drop the excess distractions
Last year I started book blogging. It was great, because books were easy to take along and are easier to sneak in those short time frames. But it was causing an equal problem because my rare writing sessions became my book review sessions. I was also doing a few other regular posts on my blog, each of which was taking away from that time. I’ve since cut all but one regular post, which is a monthly book club, and have really dropped the number of book reviews I accept. This, in turn, has opened up additional time to spend writing and/or networking with writers and readers.
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Sometimes you just have to ask for the time
In the evenings, after the little one is tucked into bed, I usually spend time either working my second job or spending quality time with my wife. One is an obligation, the other is something I enjoy doing and wish I could do more often. I have found that my wife will occasionally suggest I should write if it has been a while since my last writing night. But I’ve also found that she is more than willing to let me take an occasional evening for myself and dive into a solid writing session. I always hesitate to do so, since it means sacrificing time I could instead spend with my better half, but there are times when it is almost equally satisfying to spend more than an hour working away on my writing because of that sense of accomplishment that accompanies that writing session.
It is hard juggling work and family life. It is even harder trying to stack writing into that mix as well. But it certainly can be done, and as the little one gets older it may be easier to find those times for writing. You’ll never be able to spend as much time as you’d like with one or the other. Just be sure to find a balance that doesn’t neglect either of those things.