Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The top-secret way to write more when you have young kids


School’s out!

Summer’s here, and if you have young kids, you know what that means: kids in your hair. 

All day long, and by evening, you’re sapped by family activities and running around.  Running, running, running.  They’re running you into an early grave… and you’re running on empty.

Where can you find time to write?

Some days (is this just me?), the thought of sitting down at the computer after a busy family-filled day is utterly, completely depressing.  I know there are disciplined writers out there who put in their 1000 words a day come hell or high water.  But I’ll admit it right now: I’m not always one of them.

Do you ever have a day when you feel like you’ve given them everything you’ve got?

I do.  Sometimes, I’ve given my kids everything in me and there is nothing – well, almost nothing – left.  But it’s that almost nothing that you have to take and squeeze out. 

Those very last drops of inspiration are sometimes the very sweetest.  

Giving more than 100%

Have you ever cut and squeezed a lemon? 

I have.  I stubbornly quartered and squeezed lemons by hand for years before we moved to Israel and bought a citrus juicer (because, hey, I’m not going to miss out on delicious local orange, lemon and grapefruit juice!).  The juicer is awesome, so powerful that it can take a lemon that I’ve already squeezed out by hand and get another quarter-cup of juice out of it.


(These strong manual citrus juicers are everywhere here in Israel – and they’re not expensive, either!)

That’s what you’ve got to do at the end of your day.  Squeeeeeeeze those last drops out of yourself.  Some days, it’s not going to be much, but it’ll be something, and just as delicious as the rest of what you write.

But forget about firing up that computer.  You don’t need a computer to write.  And that’s part of the secret to carving out quality writing time.  Skip the “middleman” and JUST WRITE.

Don’t over-complicate it – just write

Writing today has become way more of a production than it has to be. 

In days gone by, all a writer had to do was pull out a piece of paper and a pen or pencil.  Heck, if you didn’t have those, you could use eyeliner or even lipstick on the bathroom mirror.

Remember this:  it is the essence of this writing thing that you and I love so much.  Writing, even in the 21st century, can still be as simple as grabbing a pen and a piece of paper. 

Forget about turning on your device. 

How many times have you powered up your computer, your phone, your tablet, only to discover that it needs charging, or that it’s calling to you in a dozen different ways.  Your friends on Facebook need you, your followers on Twitter and your groups on WhatsApp and your relatives on email all need you – usually urgently. 

That device isn’t always your friend.  Goodness knows, when they’re on vacation, your kids are not your friends when it comes to carving out time to write.

Parenting lasts 20 years

This “parenting” thing isn’t just going to go away overnight.  Even when your kids are older, they’ll still need your attention.  At times, 24/7/365.

Take it from me (my first baby turns 21 in 2 months, and I’m still waiting); there will never be “enough” time.  But with this secret – how easy it really can be to sit down and write – you’ll always have enough time to write.

A pen and a piece of paper – these are always your friends, as a writer.

If you have more time, that’s wonderful.  1000 words will go a long way to setting you on the path towards a longer book.  But remember, all it takes is 500-700 words to create a kids’ picture book.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could do it while you still have kids young enough to appreciate it?

Just a pen… and paper.  Or lipstick, and a mirror.  And five minutes.  Maybe 10, if you can get everyone out of your headspace for that long.

Just write.  That’s the only secret there is.  Just sit down and write.

Have I forgotten anything?  If you’ve been here and done this with young kids, I’d love to hear your tips!


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