As a full-time working mother pursuing the dream of publication, I often feel pulled in a thousand different directions. Overwhelmed, inadequate and stressed out. I think almost every writer struggles with these same emotions. After all, we live in a culture where time is a commodity. A precious resource. One we’d all like more of.
But as much as we might wish for the power to forgo sleep — Oh, to be a vampire! — I don’t see that happening anytime soon. So how can we can we manage to write when our hours are overflowing with things to do? After doing some reflecting, I came up with a short list of “musts” for balancing a hectic schedule and pursuing our dream of publication.
1. Keep a sacred writing hour. My sacred time is every morning from 5:00 to 6:00. This is my no-excuse hour devoted to novel writing. Not blogging. Not tweeting. But actual work on my work-in-progress (WIP). Maybe you don’t have an hour to spare. That’s okay. Start with something small like half an hour. But be diligent about carving out a chunk of time each day.
2. Structure your time according to your priorities. My priorities are: God first, family second, writing third, then everything else. I never want to forget my ultimate pursuit — and it’s not publication. It’s Jesus. That means getting up at an insane hour (4:00 am, gasp!) to pray and read the Bible before my writing time. At night, when I get home from work, it’s family time. If I get these three things right each day, I can go to bed knowing I stuck to my priorities.
3. Give up what you can, and cherish what you can’t. As much as we might want to, we can’t do everything. So learn to say no. Learn to ask for help. During the school year, I don’t do the laundry or cook, my husband does. It’s his way of tangibly supporting my writing career. How can your spouse help out more? Do you have older children who can pitch in? Are there things you can give up? I’ll never be the queen of hospitality or keep up with American Idol. Those are things I choose not to do. Of course, there are things I can’t give up. Like being a wife, a mother and a Christian. Neither would I want to. Let go of what you can and embrace what you can’t.
4. Set realistic short-term and long-term goals. I’m a huge believer in setting goals. Without goals to strive toward, I roam aimlessly, usually on Twitter or Facebook. A long-term goal might be finishing a novel in a certain number of months. Figure out what short-term goals you need to set in order to accomplish your long-term one. This might be a specific word count each day. Don’t forget to write your goals down. Make sure you don’t watch television or surf the Internet until you reach your goal. Above all, be honest about your circumstances and abilities and make goals that are realistic for you.
5. Embrace Grace. We’re all busy. Nobody’s perfect. Everybody has good days and bad days. That same grace you extend to your friends, your husband, your children? Make sure to extend it to yourself too.
Katie Ganshert is a wife, mother, writer, fifth grade teacher, and dog lover who lives in the heart of the Midwest. She writes inspirational women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Her short stories have been published in Christian Fiction Online Magazine and one of her novels placed in the Inspiration for Writers contest. She is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association (ACFW), enjoys blogging and reads voraciously. She’s completed four novels and looks forward to writing more. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary Group. You can find her on the web at http://katieganshert.blogspot.com/.