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6 Proven Writing Strategies for (Very) Busy Moms and Dads

12:44 PM

This past year has been a whirlwind! While I've been blogging and writing for over 10 years, I recently decided to get very serious about a fiction manuscript I had been dragging my feet on, as well as working hard to get an agent. Well, both have been accomplished, but not without a lot of work.



I get a lot of questions from friends and family about my writing career. Before I answer some of them, you should know that being a successful writer means different things to different people. I consider it a great month if bills get paid for our family of 8 with my writing. That doesn't leave much extra, but it's a great accomplishment in my eyes.

Most of the questions I get involve "how do you find time to write?" or "how do you write without an office?" or even "what do you do with the kids when you write?" As you know, my husband and I both work from  home and we homeschool. There is very little quiet, so I have to do the best with what I have.

To answer those questions, I've put together a list of my own personal proven writing strategies for (very) busy moms and dads. I hope they help you!

1. Be realistic. 


When I first read that Stephen King can get down 2,000 words or more a day in his book On Writing, I was inspired. I technically can do that, as well, as I am a very fast writer. But doing so in practice is different. Kids come in my room, needing help with sippy cups or a fight refereed. I don't always have uninterrupted time each day.

So I do what I can. That 500 words I just got done? A miracle! Take the wins you can get and realize that what you can technically do is not what you will realistically do. Adjust your expectations. Otherwise, you will end up resenting your role as mom or dad (and we don't want that.)

2. Be alert.


You should always be looking out for times you can fit in work on your writing. Even if it is just 15 minutes here or there, you can make it work. Now, I personally need 20 minutes or more to get into a good writing zone and put out quality words, but that doesn't mean I can't use small scraps of time to get other things done. Tasks I do during those broken-up chunks where I'm cuddling a sick, interrupting kid include:

  • research for my book 
  • backup up the manuscript (always back up!)
  • brainstorming character traits, names, or scenes
  • learning (more on that next)
There is no such thing as "wasted time." Unless, of course, you choose to waste it.

3. Be learning.


When I first started working on my YA fiction manuscript, I was under the impression that all I needed to do was write. And I was right.. for awhile. But you need to be learning, too. And I don't mean expensive writer's workshops, courses, or videos. I mean to read.

Yes, reading is part of writing. If you're not reading, you're not learning. You can't decide what you like, so you won't know what you want to write. It's a cyclical process for me. I read something great.. I write well for a time. I read something terrible, I realize I don't want to make those mistakes. I adjust. I learn.

Read. You'll never regret it as a writer. And it helps you fill in those chunks of time when writing is impossible due to a colicky baby.

Who has time to write a book -- especially with kids? Check out Linsey's strategies for getting writing done as a mom or dad!


4. Be patient.


Not just with yourself (because we are all usually very hard on ourselves, aren't we?) But with your family. They didn't choose to be born to a writer mom or dad. They want the same things they wanted before you decided that you were going to write that 120,000 word epic sci-fi novel. Don't take out your lack of time, patience, or vision out on them. They are still the most important things in your life!


5. Be you.


I fretted a lot about how to write. And while nothing is published (yet), I know that I need to say that I wrote it my way. Yes, an editor will likely change a lot. I may get told that the direction is lacking or that my tone is off. But as far as the story, and my decision to include (or not include) key controversial dialogue pieces or a protagonist that thinks a little too much like me, those are not up for debate. I'll tell my story. You can choose whether you like it. Besides, there are a bunch of terrible books out there getting published. Keep things in perspective, won't you?

(And don't forget to treat yourself when you do get things done. I like really good coffee and some Walker's Shortbread to spur me on when I'm on a writing rut. It helps to indulge a bit and feel like writing is as much a treat as work. These tasty cookies are made with real butter. Thanks to Walker's for sending me some samples!)



6. Be always writing.


Keep a notebook with you. (These moleskin ones are awesome!) But even if you're sitting in the waiting room of the dentist and you think of something amazing (because you will), have a scrap of paper or the back of the envelope your water bill came in to jot it down. You won't get it back. I promise.

Use showers to daydream and write the next scene in your head. Then write it down. Record your thoughts on how the villain won't win while you are cruising down the highway. (Hands-free with the phone, please.) Always be writing. Even if it's not at your laptop. 

I let a few scenes from my book, the first ones, sit for over 4 years. Then, one day, I decided "enough is enough." I was writing this book. So for the past two months, I've been cranking out pages, and in another, I'll be done. It's the first draft, but it's a good start.

If you've been wanting to get your manuscript done, what's stopping you? Which of the six strategies above are you NOT taking advantage of. They are all important. They will all get you there!




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