Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Time, Time, Time, What Have You Done to Me?

As an LDS mother of six children, who teaches at a university, serves in the community and writes books on the side, I’m often asked where I find the time to write. I always answer that you make time for what you love, which I believe to be true. If you don’t love it, you won’t make the time to do it. However, I do have to juggle sometimes and after talking with other authors about how they manage family life, employment, and writing, I thought I’d pass along some of my juggling strategies.

First of all, I carry paper with me wherever I go. Some people have laptops, tape recorders, whatever is handy, but I’m still a paper girl. (Probably from my days as a reporter and jotting all my notes on the steno pad!) Then when I’m sitting in the car waiting for carpool or at the doctor’s office, I can jot down ideas or plot points. I also get good ideas right before I drift off to sleep, but I still have a hard time writing in the dark! I’m getting better at deciphering my own, "I wrote this in the dark" handwriting though, which has helped.

When I am doing menial household chores, I imagine the scene I’m working on. I see the setting, the characters, and work it all through in my mind. Then when my preschooler is preoccupied with his favorite TV show, I have half an hour to run to the computer and write down everything I’ve been imagining. Obviously, this will go through rewrites, etc., but the important thing is getting it all down. (I also learned to type with one hand when I was nursing my babies and writing. It’s come in handy a few times! Not that I’d do it at a ward talent show, or anything, though . . .)

Be prepared to write with interruptions. As any parent will tell you, interruptions are to be expected, and they usually happen right at the good part, when you’re on a roll, when the story is just pouring out of you and you can’t type fast enough. I’ve learned to write in snatches, to be able to come back to the plot and not have lost the mojo. It’s tough, but do-able.

Make your writing time a priority, but be flexible with what works for you. Some people get up early in the morning to write, which doesn’t work for me. I have to get up plenty early as it is in order to get everyone ready for school and start my day, and I’m not really an early morning person. Sadly, my creative muse doesn’t seem to function properly early in the morning. Other people write late at night, but that doesn’t work for me either because my entire family is home at night and I’m anxious to spend time with my husband and children. I usually write during the day, with good music playing and the Caller ID handy so I can answer important calls and return other calls later. There are some days I don’t write at all, and other days I’m forever going to the computer or my notebook with ideas, scenes, and plot lines. It really comes down to what works for you and your family.

Give yourself a deadline. As a former journalist, I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines. I love them because they give me a date to shoot for, a goal to be met and being the person I am, I will kill myself to make that deadline. I hate it because it puts pressure on me, but the reality is, I generally work well under pressure. I always make it a reasonable goal or deadline, though, so I don’t have to go through any perfectionist self-hatred if I don’t quite meet the deadline. Be gentle with yourself.

Most of all, know your priorities. If you need to be with your children, enjoy that time. If you have job responsibilities, that’s okay. Writing is something that can nourish your soul and feed the creative flame and it will be there when you’re ready. Just don’t leave it too long—make time for what you love.


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