Once upon a time, I thought that to be an author you had to have a special magical place to write. A place where if you sat there words and stories would come to you magically. That the space you wrote at was the key to success. Then I became a mom. Guess what, I have a desk and it is extra special writing time if I get to sit there, but if I waited until I could sit at my desk to write, I would't ever get any writing done. I can't be picky about where I sit if I want to hit realistic goals. I can't balance my writing life and my mom life. So if you are struggling for time, for the perfect environment I would ask you one thing. How much does it really matter to you where you write? For some it might be huge, and they will have to make it a priority, for others it might not matter as much as you think it does. That was my case. As a mom I have to write in what ever kind of environment I can get, while balancing my 5 kids and their schedules. That might mean sometimes I will write outside, in the car, in the living room, in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in my kids bedroom. Seriously I write everywhere. I cannot rely on that magical place. I have to make every place magical. And guess what you can too.
10 Tips to making any space your magical writing space:
1. Bring only what you need. Balancing extra stuff will get annoying quick.
2. Set your kids up with whatever activity they will be doing, and then get to work. Advanced preparation here is key.
3. Headphones and writing music is great as long as you don't need your ears for anything else. Its great to keep your writing mood and drown out some of the background noise.
4. Bring something to drink. Seriously I always get thirsty when I am writing. Same with any writing snacks you love.
5. Try to have internet access for quick research or the use of a thesaurus or dictionary.
6. Accept that you will get interrupted, and learn to be okay with that. There will be some distractions when you aren't sitting at your desk but are out in the world.
7. Make good use of your time. Turn off all the distractions that you can choose to get lost in, and make your writing time as effective as you can. Hint hint, Social Media.
8. Be flexible!
9. Have back up pens if you are editing with a hard copy.
10. If you scoot your chair back in the car your lap becomes a great desk.
BONUS: Not planning on writing but the opportunity comes up. ALWAYS keep a small notebook and pen with you. Then you can sneak in some writing when the unexpected time presents itself. I always have writing stuff in my car, for when I end up waiting for my husband or kids for longer than I expect. Your google doc app on your phone is also good, if you don't mind working on your story with your tiny phone keyboard.
BONUS #2: Use a recording app or get one of those recorders for lectures so that you can talk the book and type it up later. Could be useful if you can't really use your hands like on a long drive, where you are the driver. Just pay attention to the road. :D
One last thing. Forgive yourself if you don't get a lot done. That is normal and fine. Just celebrate what you do accomplish, even if it is only two sentences, Or one page edited. That is still more then you would have gotten if you didn't take the spare moment.
Writing as a mom isn't always easy but it is possible and can even be fun!
Writing while pregnant
I have been pregnant and writing for 5 pregnancies. The fist thing I can say is, it is hard. Especially if you have other kids who keep you busy and help use your limited energy, because by the time you get to sit down to write, a debate begins. Do I spend time writing…. or do I take a nap. Honestly the nap wins a lot. Pregnancy can take a lot out of you especially in your third trimester. But just because you are pregnant doesn’t mean that you have to give up your writing all together. Here are some tips to help you do both.
Writing with a Newborn
Writing when you have a super new baby is a hard thing to do. But when you are a writer, you still want to do it. You still have that urge and that need. And if you have a deadline then you really need to be able to do it. Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing with a newborn.
Writing with small Children
When you have zero kids, you can basically write whenever, while juggling normal life and a job. Add the kids and the main thing you have to do is adjust your time. You might become a night owl, and work on your writing then. You might become a morning person and find your writing time before the kids wake up. Seems easy enough, but remember just like when you finally figure out your babies sleep schedule, it changes, your perfect little schedule you will figure out will change too. As they grow their schedule will change, and yours will need to change too. So this time adjustment thing never goes away. To make both work you need to be willing to always be tweaking how you do things.
1. Let them help feed your motivation by telling them what you're working on! I love it when my kids ask me what book I'm writing.
2. Write during nap time or when they are in school.
3. Get things started in the house. A load of laundry done, a load of dishes, then sit down to write. When they need switched out you probably need a break anyway.
4. Let them help choose character names. Kids love this!
5. Request your books that you need to read so that when you take your kids to the Library you can simply pick up your stack and focus on helping them find books of their own.
6. Play hard with them for 30+ minutes so that they are more willing to play nicely together while you get a little work done.
7. When they are watching their favorite show that you can't stand anymore, bring your writing out and work right next to them.
8. Ask if they think this plan or that plan would be better for your character. This works for any genre but they will be the most excited if it is kid lit. But no matter the genre they will love being involved.
9. Ask your partner to take the kids on an adventure and leave you at home. An hour or more is best. I recommend two to three if possible. Then switch with your spouse so they can work on their own dream. Then you can have some fun one on one time with the kids. This is good for everyone!
10. Make family trips research trips. Take pictures of your hike and think if you could use the setting in a story. Observe a city and think about how any details might help in your writing. If you want to place your next book at the grand canyon then plan a family trip. Fun and research all in one!
11. BONUS!!! Let them scribble all over the pages you are revising. It makes them happy and you might get some cute keepsakes in your manuscripts pages.
Note: Many of these ideas were already posted on my old website. www.authormommy.com but I wanted to move them here.
Cassie M. Shiels.
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