And … They’re Off!

on August 25, 2014

Call me a bad mom, but I am THRILLED that today my kids are back in school.

Now … I can get back to a routine.

I’m not organized, and I’m not a big planner, and everyone knows I don’t plot … but I need to have a regular routine to write the three (or more) books a year I write.

When I speak to writers, I tell them that it’s important to develop good writing habits, and the first and most important writing habit is to develop a writing routine. Everyone has a different life with different responsibilities — family, work, commitments — but if writing is to be a priority in your life, you have to MAKE it a priority, and the best way to do that is create a routine and stick to it as best you can.

When I was working full-time out of the house and raising a family, the only time I could write was at night when the kids went to bed. I made a lot of sacrifices because writing was important to me — I gave up television for three years and I gave up a lot of weekend socializing. What this gave me was seven nights a week, three hours a night, to focus on learning the craft of writing. In those three years, I wrote five manuscripts, sold my first book, and then wrote my option book. Because I created a writing routine.

Once I quit my day job and worked from home, writing actually became harder because I didn’t have the “routine.” Sometimes, when you have multiple commitments, it’s much easier to lock down your two hours a night writing or all day Saturday or whatever fits in with your busy life. Those hours become more productive because you know they are the only hours that week that you’ll have.

When you have seemingly unlimited writing time, you develop bad habits (procrastination) because instead of the firm two hours you have eight or ten or twelve hours to write. The time makes you lazy. Facebook, Google (love my research!), email, Twitter, Pinterest, television … yeah, there are plenty of things to interfere with your writing time.

Or, maybe it’s just me.

When the kids are at school, I have a routine because I know they’ll be home at 3:30 and I won’t be able to write at all … snacks, talking about their day, homework, rushing off to sports … whatever it is, we have a lot of it to do. So my writing time … from about 9:30 – 3:30 … is sacred. And I’m productive. But when the kids are home without all the other responsibilities, I drag my feet more, thinking I have “all the time in the world” … but I don’t. They stay up later, we watch more television, do more things, and my time seems to slip by …

Also, when the kids are at school, they leave the house by 8 in the morning. I have to get up earlier to get them off, then I’m ready to walk on my treadmill, shower, and work … whereas in the summer there is never any rush to do anything.

I can of course write during the summer (I can’t take three months off) but I don’t have a set routine, so I tend to not be as productive. Being constantly interrupted wrecks havoc with my muse. As I’ve often said — I can write with noise, I can’t write with interruptions.

So yes … I’m very excited that the kids are back at school, and I can have a set writing schedule again! 9:30-3:30 during the day … and 9:30 pm until … whenever … at night.

And I need it. I have three books to write between now and April 15 …