I am a stay at home mother and an aspiring novelist. During the workweek, my kids are in school until 3:45, so you’d think I’d have plenty of time to write. I do, and I don’t. I do, provided I consistently schedule writing time. I don’t, when I neglect to treat that time as sacred and immutable. My approach to carving out time is just one among many, but fellow blogger, Michelle Feder, encouraged me to share my weekly template in hopes others might find it useful. Obviously my schedule is specific to my needs, but it can be altered in a myriad of ways to fit yours.
Monday – Walk (my preferred form exercise,) then do The Stuff of Life which is loosely defined as any and all requisite tasks for the members of my family to stay afloat, enjoy life, and remain contributing members of society i.e. make doctor appointments, fill out paperwork, pay bills, buy birthday presents, plan trips, etc.
Tuesday – WRITE
Wednesday – Walk then WRITE
Thursday – WRITE
Friday – Walk then Funday which is loosely defined as my designated day for play i.e. have lunch or coffee with a friend, volunteer at the girls’ school, prepare a “fancy” dinner for friends and family, etc.
The key to successful implementation is tri-fold:
- T/W/Th writing days are untouchable. With the exception of a sick kid, I don’t allow for diversions. Case in point, I’m missing a birthday luncheon for a good friend today. I will opt out of field trips, even though I’m not pulling down a paycheck from a real job. Shoddy friend? Maybe. Half-assed professional mom? Sure. Focused writer? Definitely.
- On my writing days, I leave the house with my kids and don’t return home until I’ve written a scene for the novel or the school day has ended. When I try to work from home I quickly get distracted. The Mercer Island Library is my favorite place to buckle down. Unfortunately it doesn’t open until 10a.m. Even so, I make sure to kill time outside of the house or else I quickly get sucked into the bottomless pit of The Stuff of Life.
- Even if I’m feeling uninspired or unenthused on a T/W/Th, I force myself to write.
If I don’t follow a structured schedule, I find that my stick-to-itiveness dies a quick death. The days get away from me, and honestly nothing depresses me more than looking back on squandered writing time knowing I’ve accomplished nil. Alternatively, I feel completely justified having a Friday Funday when I’ve successfully completed three solid writing days.
Writing is much like exercise. It must be tailored to the individual, and often trial and error is the surest path to framing a realistic work schedule.
Rigidity works for me, but how about you? What’s your schedule like? Do you carve out your writing time, or do you find fluidity works for you?