Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Secret of a Busy LDS Woman

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I get asked a lot how I do it. How do I juggle a large family, working, and writing books? Sometimes I wonder, too. There isn't an LDS woman on the planet who isn't busy, when you think about it, and more so if you have children and/or a job. For example, we are asked to do family history, attend the temple, accept a calling in our ward, fulfill compassionate service assignments, read scriptures daily, have personal prayer, keep yourself physically fit, keep a clean house, community service, the list could go on and on. Add children to the mix and you've got to be a support for Scouts, (keeping records so they can achieve Eagle), Cub Scouts, both scout and girls' camp, Young Men activities, Young Women activities, Achievement Days, Activity Days, Faith in God program, Duty to God program, Young Womanhood program, family home evenings, family scripture study, family prayer, family temple trips, make nutritious dinners, drivers' ed, dating, I mean, my to do list is long. So how do I find time to sleep, much less write, you ask? It's called the Fifteen Minute Snatch.

Let me explain what I mean. When something is important to you, you will find time for it. I believe that. If your favorite television show is on, you will make time to sit and watch it. If a clean house is important to you, you may not go to bed until it's done. But sometimes when you have a long to do list, it can get overwhelming. That's where the fifteen minute snatch comes in. No matter what is going on in my day, I can usually find a snatch of time, generally about fifteen minutes, sometimes longer, where I can do something else—something that is important to me, like writing. For example, I get up early and get my oldest five children off to school, then feed my youngest child. While he is eating, I have about fifteen minutes to sit down at the computer and write the scene I've been imagining in my head. It's not easy to write in snatches sometimes, but you can train yourself to do it and be able to come back to it and get in the rhythm. Or, when my child is down for a nap and the house is tidy, I can find another fifteen minutes to finish that scene, do some family history, work on my church lesson, read the scriptures, or work on my responsibilities as a county delegate. Obviously, there are some things that need more than fifteen minutes and have to be planned for, but you would be surprised at what you can accomplish in such a short amount of time. I always feel energized when I've finished, too, and by the end of the day I'm feeling pretty good about myself and the things I was able to accomplish.

If you don't believe me, test it out. Write down everything you have to/want to/need to do. **Warning—this could look overwhelming at first.** Prioritize your list into what is truly important to you. Then, start your day and look for fifteen minute snatches of time. You can find them anywhere. When you're waiting for carpool, doctor's appointments, finish household chores early, do a crockpot dinner so you have less meal prep time and can use that time in another way, just anywhere you can find a spare minute. Even five minute snatches during commercials is better than nothing. Then go down your list and work on that item for your snatch of time. It is absolutely amazing at what you can do! You might not get it all done, you'll probably have to come back to it, but you're working on it, and it's getting there. Even if you just have to sit and relax for fifteen minutes, meditate, make some plans, whatever, just taking that time for yourself and doing something you enjoy will energize you.

Not only is it really satisfying to me, but it's also good for my kids to see that Mom needs time for herself and her dreams, too. They know that they are my number one priority, but they also know that it's okay for me to have a life separate from them, so that when I'm with them, I'm a better, happier person. I think they understand that and work harder to give me that little snatch of time every now and again. Then we all can celebrate when a new book comes out, or when we all go to the temple for names that have been researched out, or even just sitting back and enjoying each other–the best use of time. I truly believe that you will find time for what you love and you will love it when you find the time.


At 4/21/2006 6:31 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

This reminds me of a story I read once (probably in a writing magazine) about a high school English teacher who worked out his day and realized he literally had ten minutes to write a day in the morning before school started. So he did. Every day he went to the school library and wrote for those ten minutes. And apparently he produced some sort of literary masterpiece that sold in a heated bidding war.

So it can be done. And you're right, we always make time for the things that are important to us. I bet people always find time to eat and sleep. :)

At 4/22/2006 2:43 AM, Blogger C.L. Hanson said...

I can completely relate to this (even though I have only two little kids and a full-time job).

I've found I've gotten less done on personal projects when I have more free time because I end up saying "I can do it later this afternoon, or tomorrow, or the next day, it doesn't matter..." And weirdly, it's sometimes worse if I've seet aside a particular block of time specifically for writing.

Yet when I have more stuff to do than time to do it -- particularly a list of mundane tasks that need to get done -- I start inventing elaborate scenes in my mind, and I'm just waiting for any fifteen free minutes I can grab to get it on paper.


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