A few weeks ago, the old Staples commercial from 1996 was making the rounds on Facebook. You know the one -- where Dad gleefully rolls down the aisles of Staples, gliding along with his shopping cart, throwing in school supplies with wild abandon while his school-aged kids sulk behind him -- to the tune of "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." That one. It's just another reason why the 90s were so awesome, but I digress. Anyway, fast-forward to 2013 and I could be that happy parent because my nearly four-year-old is in full-day preschool! That's right, Mama's got time to write!
Technically, he only goes three days a week and full-time is only 5.5 hours a day and I still have another child at home....but, with one kid out the door, I have discovered a new writing routine where I actually get stuff done. Granted, this occurs only if my 18-month-old naps (today, he did a 2-hour stint). But for the most part, I'm being productive! And this is important because I don't want writing to be a 'side thing I do' -- I want it to be my career and that can't happen unless I do it everyday and make time for it everyday.
This new routine is alleviating some of the anxiety I'm feeling about my book going into content edits next week. With several hours a week to myself to concentrate, I should be able to make consistent progress on improving the book. (While I love my 3.5-year-old son dearly, he is not the kind of kid to let mommy sit at the computer and do her thing. He will stand next to me while I work and demand my attention.)
Young Adult author Shannon Hale wrote a wonderful blog post about how she balances motherhood and her writing career. At the end, she suggests trying an experiment in which you turn off the internet to examine the amount of free time you are wasting. Now, while that is never going to happen for me, I can say that while I'm writing, I'm writing. I don't check my email or Twitter or Facebook because I never know when my toddler is going to wake up from his nap. Will he give me an hour or two? So I have to make every moment count. Every extra minute of uninterrupted time is a minute toward finishing my book or edits or outline. It's one step closer to earning some money from my writing and then maybe I can hire a babysitter once in awhile.
So, thank you September. Thank you for the start of school and for the start of a new routine that will enable me to get the writerly things done. I promise not to take this time for granted.
As for you lovely writers (those with kids and those without), are you utilizing any new writing routines to help you make progress? Resolutions don't have to begin in January. September is as much a start to the year as any.