I read several bloggers who express a wish to write. For some it’s the desire to set down a record of their daily lives for their children to read in the future. Many say this is an outlet for them, a little bit of “me time” in a day filled with the highs and lows of raising children. Others say they wish to write novels and short stories, for themselves and others, maybe even become published. But whatever the focus, I find myself asking the same question: how do we find the time?
I read in the evenings because by the end of the day I am too tired to do anything more productive. Writing, if I am to do any, has to be accomplished during the day. This isn’t a problem when the little man is at preschool and there no appointments to attend. I tend to squeeze the household chores into the little blocks of time the sociologists might call “non-work” time: those few minutes when you have your eye on the clock for the time when you leave for preschool, long enough to put a wash on or clean the bathroom basin, but not long enough to play a game or build something or get the arts and crafts box out. That way, I have four mornings per week available in which to write. At least once per week I take myself off to a coffee shop about 15 minutes from here, set up camp in a cosy corner with a cappuccino, and write in a notebook. I have an indulgent little fantasy that when I am published and become recognised, the staff will say that I used to visit their shop frequently, back in the very beginning. It’s a little JK Rowling but I like the idea. Other mornings I might join a blog hop or write down a few ideas for posts, or read what other people have written. When I’ve decided on a writing course, I will use the time to pursue that. The advice I’ve read most often is “write every day”, no matter what form that takes or how good the material that is produced.
This is a good starting point and I’m sure it will lead to some productive writing, but there are large stretches of the year when the little man is not at preschool and this is where the trouble begins for me. A half term is six weeks and then there is a break of one or two weeks, another six weeks and then another break. I’m just getting into my writing stride when a change of routine is imposed upon me. This in itself wouldn’t be so much of a problem but for the strange phenomenon which occurs as soon as I’ve settled down to something. An example: the little man and I have been out all morning, we’ve been swimming, seen a friend and he’s been active and sociable. At home after lunch he asks to watch a DVD. Fine, he can enjoy his film and I will sit with him and write or read. He’s occupied, so I will seek to occupy myself. Except that it doesn’t work that way. Once he sees that I am doing something, he loses interest in his film and begins to chat or ask questions or gets a book for us to read. It’s lovely that he wants to spend time with me as goodness knows the time will come soon enough when that will be his last priority. But I wish we could find a happy medium so that, during those times when he is not at school, we could compromise and each do our own thing, side by side, for part of the day. It always seems to me that having children is all about extremes: in the beginning you long for a little time to yourself, a couple of hours. By the teenage years, you long to have a little time with them. At least that’s how I perceive it. I wish there was a way to even it all out. At the moment I am resigned to writing very little during the school breaks. I can only be comforted by the idea that great works are created little by little.
How do other writers with responsibilities or jobs outside the home find the time to write? How do you organise your day to accommodate everything you want to achieve?