I’m a mom of six energetic kids ages 4-14. While they’re at school, I write 2-3 articles per week for my part-part-time job. I also run our household (dishes, laundry, paying bills, making kids do chores, planning and preparing meals, repeat, repeat, repeat) shuttle kids to and from places, help with homework, and juggle anything else life throws at me. My life is anything but the schedule I envision on a day-to-day basis.
Can you relate?
Somewhere in the midst of all that, I have several manuscripts at various points the writing process. I want to be further along. But, this writing (which for now, though I’m serious about it, has no actual deadlines) always seems to come after everything else. You know…If there’s time left…which there usually isn’t leftover time.
Maybe you’re like me, or maybe (hopefully) you’ve got this “my writing is a huge priority” thing down and you’re off and running.
For those who are struggling, do you recognize any of these phrases?
…after I get the kids to school.
…after I finish the dishes.
…after I scroll Facebook/Twitter/Instagram for a while.
…after I reply to these important emails.
…after I’m done with work.
…after the kids are in bed.
…after I’m done reading this book.
…after the house is clean (does anyone really ever have a clean house anyway? Seriously. It’s overrated).
…after I exercise and shower.
…after __________ (fill in the blank with your excuse).
When I realized what I was doing to my writing, I thought about it. Is there some underlying reason why I am putting everything else ahead of my writing? I think there’s a few reasons–I don’t take myself seriously enough as an author, I’m completely afraid of all the “what-ifs,” and so, I procrastinate.
Obviously, some of the things I have to do first have to be done before I delve into my writing world, but for the most part, I have started trying to put my writing before.
How to put your writing before:
1. Whatever it is, you can delay it for 10 minutes or an hour.
Sit down in a chair with your computer or laptop regardless of needing to clean the entire house. Set a timer for 10 minutes (or 20, 40, or 60 minutes). Now, write. Just write. Whether the words are crappy, genius, or somewhere in between, take time to write, jot down scene notes or outline. As you learn to put your writing before, increase your time or do it more regularly.
2. Are you procrastinating?
Stop it. Just don’t do that anymore. If you have to set deadlines for yourself, do it. Write down how many words or pages are due by a certain date on your calendar and get it done. Reward yourself when you meet or exceed your goal.
3. Take yourself seriously.
You and your writing deserve it. You are a writer, an author. Take it seriously and put in the time required. Just because writing doesn’t necessarily require specific hours like a structured job, doesn’t mean you don’t have to actually show up. Give yourself and your skills credit.
4. Punch your fear in the face.
I would rather do something I’m afraid of and get through it, than not do it at all and completely regret it. Yes, you might fail a thousand times, but perceived failures are great learning tools and success is around the corner! Don’t succumb to fear or give up. You never truly fail unless you stop trying.
What are you going to do to put your writing before instead of after?
Wendy Jessen is the author of more than 300 articles—book reviews as well as family-oriented articles on familyshare.com . She somehow manages to do that with 6 spirited children ranging in age from 4 to 13 under toe. In the throes of writing her first book, she finds ways to procrastinate which usually involves scrolling through social media. Wendy often stays up way past her bedtime reading YA or other fiction. She loves kid-free date night with her husband, family vacations, and kids’ bedtime, aka, the human version of whack-a-mole.