Try this simple experiment: Take a small jar and remove the lid. Fill it almost to the brim with sand. Now take a pebble and set it on top of the sand. The lid won’t fit anymore, right? But what happens if you pour out the sand and put the pebble in first? Miraculously, with the pebble at the bottom, you can pour the sand over and around it and screw on the lid. Everything fits perfectly, just like magic. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself and be amazed.
Think of the jar as a single busy day in your busy life. The grains of sand are the myriad tasks and commitments with which you fill your precious time. And the pebble? That, my friend, is writing.
The lesson is simple. If you carve out time to write FIRST, you will fit in all the other stuff. You will. But if you try to cram it in last thing at night, after completing every single other thing you had to do that day, you’ll never get to it. We know it’s true, and we want to do better, we really do. Sadly, it’s easier said than done.
I worked a full time job all day and attended grad school at night. At the same time I ran a Scout troop, raised two kids, maintained a home and a happy marriage, and...I wrote my first novel. I’m not bragging or putting myself in for the Busiest Mom Award (although if they ever create one, I should get at least an Honorable Mention.) But during those crazy years—and things haven’t slowed much as I close in on completing my second book—I learned a few things about time management and getting things done.
It’s not enough to say, “I will get up at five every morning and write for one hour.” It’s not enough to say, “I will call in sick tomorrow and start Chapter One.” (Both of these are actual strategies recommended by famous writers who shall remain nameless. Hint: both are men with wives and personal assistants). Maybe you’ll actually try one or the other, but if you’re a busy person, you won’t be able to sustain a writing life for long, at least not without a sensible strategy that works for YOU.
How, then, to get ahead? How do we carve out the time, the quiet, focused space that writing requires?
We organize. We containerize. We make lists. I’ve been there—hell, I’m still here, and I’m telling you it can be done. It takes discipline and a few simple tricks to get started. After that it’s up to you. In this blog I’ll be sharing my methods for fitting the writing life into a life already brimful of living. We’ll look at creating a working workspace, determining your best daily schedule, responding to editor notes without panicking, naming characters, managing social media and promotion, and much more.
So sharpen a few pencils, square up those note cards, and prepare to prepare. You can do this, if you want it. I’m here to help.
I am a writer and teacher of writing. After a lifetime of attempting to squeeze writing into my busy life as wife, mother, Scout leader, teacher, and far too many additional hats to list here, I have achieved my dream of being published and becoming a 'real writer'. How did I find the time? In this blog I'll share some of my strategies for having it all--and still getting dinner on the table by six.