The latest post on Joanna Penn's excellent blog features Andrea Pearson, who offers some essential advice on time management for authors who are also the mothers of young children.
... And who happen to have the privilege of a cleaning lady, an assistant, budget to outsource things like editing and layout, and a fantastically supportive husband who is totally on board with their writing business and actually lends a hand with some aspects of its management.
Now welcome back to the reality of a frazzled author mom on a shoestring budget, who doesn't have a peaceful moment in a day and whose husband believes that if today is the 27th of the month and she has a deadline on the 29th, rearranging the pantry is still WAY more important than anything writing-related.
Please understand that my snark here is not directed at Ms Pearson, who does sound like a fantastically organized and competent author. She has three children and homeschools, so any help she can get is definitely warranted and I can imagine she is not spoiled with an excess of free time either! Many authors with fewer commitments struggle with time management. In fact, as Ms Pearson rightly says, being busy forces us to make good use of our time.
But here's the thing. Many authors are struggling so hard to keep their heads above water that they wouldn't even have the time or energy to give an interview like Ms Pearson's. I was one of them. Like a miser lovingly clutching his coins, I would snatch every available moment to write - on a pad while being stuck in traffic, on my phone while lending myself as a pillow to a child who was struggling to fall asleep. I was literally clawing out those moments out of an overworked, unappreciated existence.
Getting my own laptop was a game changer. I used to write on the family desktop PC located in the middle of the living room, which meant I was always in the eye of the tornado. It would also often crash and my work would be unsaved.
Often, I knew that the baby wouldn't nap for long, and I needed to choose between a shower and writing. A snack and writing. Answering a call from a friend who was going through a hard time and writing.
And I chose writing.
I was that perpetually hungry, crazy-haired, lonely individual who resented her bladder for stealing a few moments that could be spent in front of the screen typing. Does that sound nuts? It is. I was nuts.
It's just that I wanted to make it really, really, REALLY bad.
And I am making it, because I still make the same choices every day. I'm more efficient in a lot of things, but my work doesn't just happen unless I put my foot down and say "Now everything waits while I meet that deadline".
What about support from your spouse or extended family?
A couple of years ago, an author told me concerning family support: "A clean house, cooked dinners, and the full-time paycheck I made didn't matter. What mattered to them was that not every single moment of my day was focused on them and serving their needs".
She was not alone. And if you are going through the same thing, neither are you. This isn't because so many spouses and children are big meanies trying to sabotage the author who happens to be their mom/dad/wife/husband. It's just that many people genuinely don't get it. And children are, by nature, selfish - you have to teach them otherwise.
If you are surrounded by an environment that all seems to conspire against your writing dream, you have to stand up and assert that dream. Take up spare moments and hoard them until you have an hour. Take those words, one by one, and put them together until you have a novel.
Things do get easier. You manage to carve out your writing corner. People learn not to drop in on you unexpectedly. Your children learn to respect your boundaries. You become more efficient at what you do and are able to do more in the same amount of time.
You rise, baby. And then you laugh in life's face, and say, "Ha! I made it despite everything!"
You can do it. I can do it. All it takes is getting up, each day, with the determination of following your dream.