As a stay-at-home mom who moonlights as a writer, I’ve experimented with various ways to make time to write. I’ve managed over two years to write three and a half novel-length manuscripts and three picture books. When I look at it that way, I have to say I’m proud. But here’s the disclaimer, in the form of a question:
How was the journey?
I’m sure you’ve heard the quip “It’s not the journey—it’s the destination.” And I’m guessing you’ll agree that when you’re looking for a paycheck, the destination becomes a little more important. Though I’ve yet to receive compensation for anything I’ve written, I’m right there with you.
But I’ve had a couple of experiences where the journey was so rocky I just about stopped writing altogether. A few months back, I spread myself too thin by, among other things, working on three manuscripts at once—two in revision and one first draft. I was extremely excited about each project, but my head was spinning with all the plot strands to rework, characters to make more dimensional, and endings to tighten up (or write at all). I managed to make myself physically sick.
Last June I started to work on a fourth manuscript, hoping to complete it with Camp NaNoWriMo (see previous post). The nausea picked up again, and I did not want a repeat attack. Writing—my creative outlet that I enjoy and crave—would have to lay low for a while. I just completed that manuscript, but barely.
Summer can feel over the top—there are way too many hikes to do, family trips to take, and honey-do-lists to complete. So I’ve learned that it might not be the best time for me to write. Winter, when I can hunker down, turn inward, and actually have “work “ days, may just be a better time. This winter, I’m going to pace myself, work on one manuscript at a time, and generally try to make choices that don’t result in me screaming for more time to write or send me to bed to calm my frenetic mind. I do find it ironic that shorter days might be a more effective and rewarding time to write.
How do you make time to write? What pitfalls have you faced when working on—and balancing—multiple projects? Is there a time of year that suits your creative self?