For any writer, finding a spare hour to dedicate to writing is a near impossible task. When you are the parent of a baby or toddler, that time is even harder to pin down.
It’s amazing how much more efficient you become once a child enters your life; however applying that to your writing world is tricky. Writing and efficiency don’t always go hand in hand. Long gone are the days when you could afford a five minute break to look out of the window.
So if you are like me and always mining around for minutes to write, here are a few tips for getting creative with the time you have.
Morning Bird Power-Hour
If you have a child who sleeps well into the morning (lucky you!) then you might be able to uncover some quiet, free time before they wake up. Set your alarm an hour early, grab a coffee, open up the laptop and go for a shot of 100 words.
Stay Up Late
I fall into the night owl bracket; 5am is just too early for me! Once the baby is in bed, if I am having a writing evening I completely shut everything else off. Dinner is cereal. Washing up is abandoned. Ignore it. It doesn’t need you. This is YOUR time. The deadline of bedtime can be adhered to, or ignored. Depends how well you can function the next day after pulling an all-nighter.
The Top 200
Write 200 words. Doesn’t matter what it’s about. The point is if you make a commitment that is achievable and after a while you will become more efficient with what you write in that period of time.
If your task is to write, just do that. Anything else is irrelevant to the task you are trying to achieve. Editing can weigh you down so free yourself from it.
…But if you have to edit…
Then make sure that the session is just for editing. You need to be strict and organised to ensure the task works out in the best possible way
While the baby is happily and safely playing then grab a notepad and a pen and jot down ideas, start a story. If you have time later you can explore anything that came do you during the day.
I have an iPad yet always assumed writing on a tablet wouldn’t come naturally. And it didn’t for me. But after some practise it actually worked out really well. I downloaded the Office Word app to ensure I was familiar with the system. It seems more achievable to write the odd thing here or there while the little one plays, or I make up a bottle or prepare dinner. This is how I have managed to write a few short stories and blog posts.
Be Realistic, Rethink and Adjust
Goal paralysis, I get this a lot. I want to do so much, but end up doing nothing because I don’t know where to start.
Get real, you have a child. That fluidity of time you were so used to does not exist anymore. I wanted to blog, write fiction, finish my novel, freelance and start a diploma, while working part time, starting a business and looking after my little one. It was just too much. It doesn’t mean that you have to let go of everything. Just re-prioritise and focus on one thing at once.
Designate a Day
If like me you have too many irons in the fire and juggling just about anything you can get your hands on, then designate one day a week that is dedicated to your one writers goal. It doesn’t need to be a whole day. It can be a morning, afternoon, evening, 40 minutes. Just one day when at some point, you write.
Planning and preparing as a parent is a beast. The unpredictable nature of babies makes it impossible to plan and or even guess how much time you have available. Yet a plan will help, but keep it manageable, flexible and achievable. Plan for your day and set it out in bitesize chunks. As I am looking after my boy today, my plan was to write a blog post during his nap time. So far, so good.
If you have a little one who is engrossed in a toy then use that time to write – even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes. I often feel consumed with guilt if I’m on the laptop and kiddo is playing. However if he is happy then why not use that time to get something done?
I always make sure if I have spent some time on the laptop, that the little one gets a massive chunk of play time with mummy afterwards. It makes them happy, you feel happy, and you can even chat through your story ideas. I find that babies are very good listeners!
I take my little one out for a long walk to clear my head and plan my afternoon. It can give your mind some breathing space and you also have the freedom to explore ideas that would probably be lost when changing nappies, making up bottles or running around trying to stop your baby exploring the dark and dangerous corners of your living room.
Quit Box Sets
Netflix, you were there during the newborn days of constant breastfeeding and recovering from a traumatic labour, and I shall never forget the support you gave me. But now we need distance. I am a writer darhling and need space. I shall see you at weekends, but our daily rendezvous is no more.
Be Kind to Yourself
Do not be hard on yourself and stop worrying about your perceived failures. Remember, you love writing and any time spent on it is a massive achievement. Now go get that brownie… did I mention that cake is a crucial part of a writers diet?