27 September, 2013

Procrastination and Time Management

When any writers get together, the subject turns soon enough to finding time to write. It's often the big difficulty in a writer's life, and it is also often the one thing that marks out a writer from someone who wants to be a writer: a writer makes sure they find the time somehow - anyhow.

I'm fortunate in that I don't have any problem finding time to write, having a supportive husband in a well-paid job who is determined I should spend my time writing! This means I have even bigger admiration for those writers who get up at 4:30am to write for two hours before work, or who write late at night when their four kids are in bed. But, like all writers, having the time to write doesn't mean I don't procrastinate. I'm pretty strict with social media - one of the biggest procrastination tools of the modern writer - but I do find it all too easy to think of little household tasks that need doing or errands I can run.

I don't believe in writer's block. I believe it is sometimes easier to write than at other times. Inspiration can be fickle and life can get in the way and I know there are some days when everything I write is awful and destined to be deleted later. But I don't think there's ever an excuse not to write if you have put the time aside to do it. It is a matter of turning up and putting letters in order, even if it's the wrong order.

From March next year, my time to write is going to be heavily restricted for the first time and so I need your best bits of advice. Perhaps this photo will serve as a heavy hint as to why my life will be changing:

I intend to be a full-time mother, BUT I know plenty of full-time parents who ALSO find time to write. I can't imagine not writing so I guess I'm going to have to find some time from somewhere. I imagine much of my life will be taken up with listening to screaming and, if my experience of holding other people's newborns is anything to go by, poking the baby to check it's still alive (How DO babies manage to be so still while asleep? I think they do it out of spite), but I need to know how to find time to write AND how to avoid procrastinating when I do have the time. So, what are your top tips for making sure you get words on the page? If you are a parent already, how have you coped with the demands of a manuscript and a baby?


  1. Firstly, warmest congratulations on your forthcoming magnum opus. And now for my time tips:
    1. Be clear what you want to work on before you sit down. That way you'll have the focus from the outset and you're more likely to achieve your objectives.
    2. If you use writing To Do lists and you happen to do other writing tasks once you've started working through your list, DON'T add them. If they're not what you decided was important to do, they're distractions.
    3. Set yourself blocks of time for writing and reward yourself at the end. A walk, chocolate or a blast of your favourite music.
    And if all that seems a little clinical (which it is), balance that up with creativity on the page!

    1. Thank-you and thanks for the tips. At the moment I know what I want to achieve week to week, but I will definitely give setting goals for each individual session a try!

  2. Once a Mother has a baby she always finds time...miraculous but it does happen.

    1. So I've heard. I won't believe it until I've seen it!

  3. Congratulations! Wonderful news!

    I didn't start writing until my children were older, meaning they were about 3 and 6, so I haven't had experience writing with babies. Here's a few things though.

    -If you're the type of mom that loves to hold baby a lot, no problem. Babies sleep perfectly on laps giving you the ability to type and gaze at their beautiful face.

    -This works well too if breastfeeding. If bottle feeding, probably not so much.

    -If editing, you can read to the baby to find those mistakes. They won't care about your story when they're really small, and they don't yet need pictures.

    -Feeding also the perfect time for plotting. Since your hands may be occupied, get a voice activated voice recorder, they're fairly cheap, and then just record all your ideas there.

    -Babies are a terrific soundboard. They love to listen to your voice, so talk things through with them, and it'll help you figure it out.

    -Don't feel bad if you're not doing as much as you want to, especially at first. It's a huge change and it takes some adjusting. You'll figure out what works best for you.

    With baby #1, I don't imagine it'll be as hard as you think, mostly because you're a stay at home mom. You can work around baby's schedule so much easier then if you work 8+ hours a day. And it's when you have the older kid running around plus baby where it'd get tricky.

    1. Yes, I've been told that one child is an accessory, two is a lifestyle! I'm going to try to write lots for the next couple of years so I can be unproductive for a few years if we are blessed enough to have another child some time!

  4. I was a house-husband for a year when my daughter was a baby and I must admit there didn't seem to be much time for writing. But then, I didn't really care because it was such a great time in other ways!

    1. I've read a lot of interviews with celebrities who seem to have it all, and yet they always say that their greatest pleasure and achievement is having their children. I find this encouraging!


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