I just got this question from a new writer who noted that errands take up a lot of time that should be devoted to writing. She wrote:
How do you manage your writing process (do you have set hours or a word count to reach each day)? How do you keep yourself accountable to getting the work done (spreadsheets? an accountability partner)? Has any of that changed now that your kids are older? How do you balance novel creating time with your other tasks, like editing, marketing, blogging, attending events, etc?
The short answer is: not well. I write really slowly. While other people are banging out two thousand words in an hour, I’ll get that much done in eight hours. So how do I find time to write? Here’s the long answer:
When my children were little I had specific times that I wrote. Namely when the kids were napping, when the kids had a favorite show on TV that would keep them occupied for an hour, playdates, and preschool. I wrote during soccer games and ballet lessons. I wrote while nursing babies. I wrote whenever I could. One page a day adds up
You’re right that errands take up a lot of time. And when the kids get home from school you’re busy with them. I try not to schedule any errands on Mondays so that it can be a dedicated block of writing. Then I try and have a day or two in the week that is also dedicated to writing and I run errands on two days a week. Very often errands take more time than two days. (And I have found, alas, that no matter how much I wish for it, the house doesn’t clean itself. Or paint itself.)
Kids have dentist appointments and doctors appointments and orthodontics appointments. Friends need help and church members need help. Am I ever going to tell a friend in need that I’m too busy to help them because I have to write fiction? Some writers do, but it seems wrong to me. Which is why a lot of my writing time gets done after 10 pm. No one calls to ask you to do things then. It’s hard to run errands–although, I have been known to go to the 24 hour Walmart. (Note: working late is only effective when your kids are young. When they’re older, they will indeed call to talk to you at midnight because they know you’re up.)
This nighttime schedule has only worked because my husband has been willing to help get kids off to school in the morning. I’ve told people on occasion that I’ll never leave my husband because he drives the carpool. I’m only half joking. Driving the carpool makes up for a myriad of sins in the romance department.
I’ve found that on some days, my older or married children still need a lot of my time. So the mom job never really ends. (Sometimes I feel like I’m my son’s unpaid personal assistant.)
As I write this blog on finding time to write, I’m planning to take a repositioning cruise that will last 14 days. The reason I’m taking it is that I will have no errands, no cooking, no cleaning, and no one will ask me for anything. I won’t even have internet–just days of uninterrupted writing time. I’m hoping to get a huge chunk of Slayers 5 done.
So what I’m saying is that if I need to pay a lot of money and hide out on a boat in the middle of the ocean for two weeks in order to get writing done,’m not the best at finding balance.