How to be a writer, friend, parent, and full time employee…all at the same time

Writing a book is not my only source of income.  Okay, who am I kidding?  It hasn’t quite reached the status of “income” yet.  But it does take up a huge part of my time.  After all, I love writing. I breathe writing.  I’ve been writing ever since I learned how to pick up a pencil and draft a story.  It’s in my blood, and I like it that way.  If I could, I’d spend every day writing, all day long – or thinking about the stories I want to write when I’m not writing them.

But that’s not reality.

Reality is that I have a full time job that has nothing to do with my book.  Reality is that I have a family who requires my attention.  Reality is that we have to eat dinner every night, and the house isn’t going to clean itself.  Reality is that my calendar is a jumbled mess of activities and obligations.

Reality is that I have very little spare time – or so I thought.

Once I published my book, I thought the hard part was done.  Boy, was I wrong!  Turns out that writing a book was the easiest part of this adventure.  The marketing, that’s been the hardest part.  And it threw me for a loop.  Marketing consists of social media, blogging, book talks and signings, swag….  How was I supposed to do all that, plus my job, plus write another book, plus maintain a social life, PLUS keep a family?

That first month and a half, I kind of resembled a chicken with its head cut off.  And my family probably suffered the most.  I was using every second of my day to blog, Tweet, obsess about sales, Facebook, and repeat. I felt unrested, and like I was getting nothing done.  And honestly, I really was getting NOTHING done.

So two or so weeks ago, I took my time back into my own hands.  How?  I created a schedule.  And it saved my sanity….and possibly even my marriage.

The trick is to use pockets of time that are unused by the other obligations of your life.  For the majority of us who have jobs and families outside of our writing lives, that means you have to sacrifice a little bit of sleep. I wake up every morning at 5 a.m., giving me two full hours of quiet time to write, or whatever I need that time for.  Sure, it sucks, but you get used to it.  Plus, I’m a natural morning person.  This is when I’m my freshest, and get my best work done.  Right now I’m using this time to edit a bunch of chapters in my WineCountryMom blog so I can turn it into an eBook series.  So my goal is to edit three chapters a day, Monday through Friday.  Sometimes, that happens.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s okay either way – I’m still moving forward.

On weekends, I use the morning hours for blogging. I don’t wake up at 5 on these days, since I do have more time to play with.  But I naturally wake up earlier, so I still have a few quiet hours to take advantage of before the family wakes up.  Currently it’s my goal to get three blogs written and scheduled for the following week. This blog your reading right now was written on May 18th.  🙂

I utilize my lunch breaks at work for phone calls, to schedule Tweets or Facebook postings, or to obsess about sales (lol).

And in the evenings, I keep the computer closed, focus on my family, and relax.  Or at least, that’s the plan.

By keeping a schedule, I’ve noticed that I get a ton more done with my time, and I’m definitely not overwhelmed.  And no one is feeling pushed aside because of my writing.  I feel like I finally have some order in my life!

Here are some tips for you as you start scheduling your time:

Keep a writing calendar.  Write down on each day what you plan on accomplishing, and then set forth doing it.  Put even the smallest thing down there, because the sense of accomplishment of crossing things off your list feels huge.

When you carve out time for writing, use it for writing.  Turn off the internet, ignore your phone, keep yourself separate from your family.  The better you use this time you’ve gifted yourself, the more available you’ll be to the rest of your life when you’re done.

Schedule your blogs, Tweets, Facebook messages, etc.  Sure, you can blog, etc in real time.  But if you already have stuff in the hopper, it allows you to still build up your Internet presence even when you’re busy with “real life”.

When you promise your time to the rest of your life (your job, your friends, your FAMILY), keep away from the computer.  This is what your writing time is for.  This is why you’re scheduling your writing time – not only to get more done with your writing, but so that your non-writing life doesn’t fall apart.  Your family needs you.  You still need that paycheck.  Your friends miss you.  Use your scheduled time wisely so that when “real life” calls on you, you can be totally present.

I’m still new at this schedule thing.  But I’ve sense noticed a huge change in what I’m accomplishing each week, and how much time I actually have.  And my family doesn’t miss me anymore.  🙂


Crissi Langwell is the debut author of A Symphony of Cicadas.  Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

P.S. Have you figured out ways to manage your own writing life better?  Share in the comments!

6 thoughts on “How to be a writer, friend, parent, and full time employee…all at the same time”

  1. I live by my calendar. I couldn’t get anything done without it. I also get a lot of writing done in the mornings, which means I have to wake up an hour earlier but hey you do what you gotta do. The way I look at it, I can get my normal sleeping hours back when writing is finally paying my bills and the harder I push now, the sooner that’ll be.

    1. So true! Planning out my calendar is totally allowing me to get twice as much done as I was when I was just floundering around in my schedule. And here’s to that day when writing pays the bills! IT WILL HAPPEN! 🙂

  2. Great blog Crissi, life does seem to get in the way of us doing the things we want to. Taking advantage of the early hours is a great idea, especially as you say you are a morning person. We should all identify our prime time, that time of day when we are most productive and have our best thoughts, for a writer this is the time to think about all those one line entries and expand on them or perhaps give in depth thought to the main characters in the plot, writing then becomes something we can easily do because we have done the hard part, thinking!!


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