3 Sanity Savers for Work Life Balance - Author Edition



I’ve got three awesome kids, and since they were all very little, mommy has been an author. My oldest, now in her teens, has grown up with mommy clacking away at the keyboard as I’ve penned more than twenty novels. I’ve always written stories, but I haven’t always been a published author.

It’s a different sort of writing when you know there are deadlines and readers waiting for you to finish that next work. And kids, no matter how many times you try to make them understand that mommy is working, will always demand mom’s attention. Especially my two littles.

I wish I could say that in the eight years since I transitioned into being a published author, I’ve got this time management thing figured out. I don’t. I still scramble for quiet space and stay up well beyond my bedtime to work on these books.

But, all that said, I do have 3 TIPS to share today, that I use, to make the process feel like it is going smoother.

1.    The kids are day shift. Writing is night shift.

When you work out of the home you have defined times to clock in and out. The same applies to writing as work. You have to have dedicated time for it, like a job.

Do I always clock in and out on time? No. But the act of setting myself that schedule helps me to remember where the balance should be.

During the day, I’m mom. That’s a full-time job already. It starts, despite all my protests, at sunrise, so in a perfect world, bedtime is 8pm. Once the kids are washed, read to, and tucked in, I clock in for work. Because I look at this as work, I’m pretty militant about clocking in on time. During the normal school week my writing hours begin at 8pm (kids bedtime), and I block out a four hour shift for this work. That means a midnight bedtime if all goes well. Weekends are my off days (but I still write then too.)

In a perfect world I could count on a guaranteed 4 hours of daily writing time. More often than not however, my two shifts bleed into each other. That’s life. I’m lucky that, right now, I’m able to be here with the kids, and write. When life gets too hectic I remind myself of this.

Hectic as it may be, using this scheduling template, I’ve been able to write at least 3 books a year.

2.    It’s okay to write bad…sometimes.

I know what you’re thinking. Hold on. Why the hell am I going to read an author’s work when they just said they are okay, and even admitting to writing bad?

Let me explain. First drafts are where most people get stopped up during the writing process. They want to write perfectly. Well that ain’t how this writing business works. Perfect writing is the result of revisions, editing, and final proofing. Multiple eyes have looked at the book by the time it reaches readers.

But we’re jumping ahead of ourselves here. The first draft should be the easiest thing to write. It’s where creativity gives birth to new characters and worlds. It is the place where an author can play with ideas. It’s often the place where would-be writers give up, because they demand perfection from something that cannot possibly be.

Allowing yourself to write a bad first draft is a simple way of saying, “Just get the story out of your brain.” You have the freedom to create during this phase.

You can’t edit what hasn’t been written, and you can’t find a plot hole in a story that doesn’t exist. Trying too hard on round one to be perfect is impossible. By accepting imperfection, and allowing yourself to put pen to paper, ensures you can complete a draft. Once that story is written the real work begins.

When I block out a 4 hour shift for my writing work, I don’t have time to stare at a computer screen all day. I have a limited amount of time to work. By letting myself free write I maximize my creative time so I can get the words in to meet story goals.

3.    Set easy to reach word count goals.

When I’m in story writing mode, especially at the beginning of a new book, the 80k word count goal can sometimes feel like staring up at a mountain I know I’ll have to climb. Most novels in my genre Urban Fantasy range between 70-90k words. That’s a lot of words, and looking at it from that vantage point feels impossible. But, a change of perspective can make all the difference. If I set myself smaller goals the pressure disappears. My regular word count goal, during the story writing phase, is 1k words per night. I set different goals for the revisions and final editing phase, but for the purpose of this tip, let’s just stick with the words.

One thousand words is easy to accomplish (I usually write more than that.) By setting the smaller goal I no longer have to look at the huge 80k word target; reducing that initial pressure. It also has another effect. By reaching daily goals, I can feel accomplished each time I sit down at the computer, and I can also pat myself on the back for going over it. Everyone like to feel like a winner. That small perk can motivate you more than you realize.

So there it is, the three sanity savers that help me through the crazy that is trying to make a career of writing while being mommy at the same time.

How do you manage work/life balance as a WAHM? Post your tips in the comments below. 
I’d love to learn a few new tricks myself.

And if you'd like to check out my work, be sure to click the series links above, or check out my Amazon Author Page!

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