There they sat, the family of three. Mama, Mr. A and 7 year old Biscuit. The light was bright over the dinner table, the Jack Johnson Pandora station played mellow music in the background and the salmon was cooked to perfection.
“I’m exhausted today. I stayed up too late the last two nights,” Mama says, spearing a piece of roasted cauliflower. It’s covered in crusty, golden Parmesan cheese, one of her favorite things.
“You think?” Mr. A responds, laughing a little as he knows his wife’s need for eight solid hours—and the fact that she never gets it.
“It was after midnight both nights before I went to bed.” She’s already fighting the yawns, as she’s been the last few hours.
“Why?” Biscuit nibbles on his apple slice, knees drawn up on his chair even though he’s been told a million times to keep them below the table top.
“Because somebody else stayed up too late the last two nights and wouldn’t go to sleep.” Mama looks pointedly at Biscuit, who grins sheepishly. “I didn’t get to start writing until almost ten o’clock both nights. But I have a blog to write for Embracing Romance tonight, so I’m going to do that and then go right to bed.”
“Sounds good.” Mr. A is picking at his salmon. “I love the lemony of the salmon.”
“Me too.” Mama goes back to the golden cheese though, since that’s the best. “So what do you think I should write the blog about?”
“Maybe how hard it is to write when you have full time job and a family and your child doesn’t go to bed?” Mr. A’s suggestion is meant partly as a joke, partly for real.
“You know, that’s a BRILLIANT idea.”
One of the most asked questions from readers and other writers is “How do you find the time to write?”
It’s true, time is my enemy when it comes to writing and housework and, well, everything. I work full time. I have a smallish child. I have a husband. I pay my household bills, budgeting and reconciling my bank account almost daily. Though I did treat myself to a once a month cleaning lady, I still have a house to maintain, meals to cook, groceries to buy and laundry to do in between. Not to mention three cats, who require continuous vacuuming and couch-dehairing.
I also run a writing program for my local romance chapter, MMRWA, and go to programs at another local writing group, CCWA. I blog, I put together the occasional newsletter, I have a website I maintain myself. I run my own social media and promo.
So how do I write? When do I write?
Primarily at night. I sit down at the computer between 8 pm and 9 pm, and I write until my eyes go blurry, which is somewhere between 11 pm and 12 midnight. That’s not easy. I’m exhausted, I’m worn out and I need my sleep. I also live on coffee. Some nights my manuscript word count is zero because I needed to blog, or I have promo to do, or emails to answer. If that happens, I try to hit a local coffee shop between 4 pm and 5:15 pm when I pick up my child from the local afterschool program.
If I’m not at the coffee shop, I’m running to the grocery store or I stop at my house to throw in some laundry or go for a quick run. Or I pick him up early and we hang out, playing Legos or make believe until its dinner time. Then I hit the computer again once he’s in bed. Twice weekly, usually Wednesdays and Saturdays, Mr. A and I have date night and the computer stays turned off. On the weekend I don’t touch the computer at all during the day. It’s all family and fun and shoveling out the detritus of the week.
The basic upshot is that I compartmentalize my life. Work, errands, dinner, chores, writing. I don’t generally mix them. For each of those compartments, I throw my whole self into it and block out all the other compartments. I am (typically) present in the moment. I’m focused solely on my errands, solely on writing, solely on my family.
I also have no hobbies. The TV doesn’t come on except for the last 20 minutes of the night if I need to decompress. I read but it’s balanced between pleasure and research. I don’t knit, embroider, quilt or paint—and I don’t miss any of those things. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t write in my “free time.”
So I write. Because that is my hobby, my career and my third love (after Mr. A and Biscuit, of course).