Whenever I tell anyone that I’m a writer who not only happens to be a stay-at-home mom, but is a stay-at-home mom of two (!!), one preschooler and one toddler (!!!!), the inevitable question that comes up is “Where do you even find the time to write?!”
It’s a fair question, and one that I often wonder about myself, since I seem to spend most of my days trying to make sure kid 1 doesn’t kill kid 2, and that kid 2 doesn’t kill herself.
I’ve become positively Gollum-esque about my writing time: I snatch it where I can, hoard it, guard it possessively (my preciousssss), and get quite agitated when it’s taken away from me, precisely because I have so little of it.
Here’s what my “writing time” looks like:
- 30 mins-1 hour when kid 1 is at preschool and kid 2 takes her far-too-short morning nap. This morning slot is usually used to review and clean up the already-written parts of the manuscript. I’m a serial rolling reviser; I know the prevailing school of thought is to write everything down and get it out of the way before going back to edit and rewrite, but I can’t do that. If I know something is wrong and I need to fix it, then by golly, I’m going to have to fix it before I can move on. Otherwise it stays in my backbrain, niggling and nagging until I get to it.
- 1-1.5 hours when the kids take their afternoon nap. My brain gets sluggish in the afternoon heat, so this slot is usually taken up with research or outlining or tweaking plotlines — all the business that goes into writing a book except for the actual writing of the book, basically.
- 2-4 blessed hours after everyone else is asleep. These are the golden hours, the time I use to actually write new stuff, move the whole shebang forward, bring up that word count to something respectable. Nobody is expecting me to make dinner or fold laundry, or asking me for another snack, or begging for another episode of Paw Patrol, or making me do the voices in this book we’re about to read for the 5th time today. It starts at about 9:30 or 10pm and goes on for as long as I can stay awake, which is generally between 12 and 1am.
- Around once a week, I ask my mother-in-law to take care of my kids for the day so I can either attend meetings, go out on assignments, or clock in a few more hours of writing time in a quiet cafe somewhere.
I’ve been writing this way for the past 31 days, and I’m now about to hit 25,000 words, which averages to a little over 800 words a day. Do I wish that number were higher? Well yes, obviously. But in a month, I have 25,000 words that I didn’t have before, and more than I’ve ever written for one piece of fiction in my life. PROGRESS, PEOPLE.
Still, I’m going to need to speed this up if I’m going to meet my goal of completing this manuscript by the end of February. We’ll see how this goes.
(It would probably go a little faster if I were, say, writing it right now instead of blogging. Oops.)