Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Priorities—Juggling Family, Commitments and Writing

Life is busy. I know this fact catches no one by surprise.

We all fight the battle of too much to do and too little time to do it. And it’s one of the biggest struggles writers face. I know we all have the same 24 hours in each day, but at times it’s harder for writers. Juggling family, commitments and writing can seem like an overwhelming task.

Not because we face more time commitments, but we have the added challenge of working from home—at a job many people consider nothing more than a pleasant hobby.  Even if we have an additional job that takes us away from home, the time we spend writing is a job, and deserves the same kind of respect and priority. I address this issue specifically in my blog post, I Don’t Get No Respect!

Today I’m going to address how to give writing the time we need to, and still fulfill our other commitments? It’s not easy, but I’m going to share some tips that may help.

Decide where you want to go with your writing. You don’t have to schedule your time to get there overnight, but to get there, you do need to know where you’re going.

Take an inventory of what’s happening in your life right now. This is also going affect how much time you can realistically spend on writing.

Now answer these two question:
  • What are you doing now, that you love MORE than writing?
  • What are you doing now that you DON’T love more than writing?

Once you have these three issues decided, here’s how to move forward.

Set deadlines. Even if you don’t have a client waiting for an article, give yourself a deadline. Then, write it down. It’s easy to fudge a deadline when it’s just in your head.

Set a weekly writing goal. If you write fiction, it may be a word goal. If you write articles or devotions, it may be a finished product goal. (For example, I’ll have 2 finished devotions every week.) I recommend a weekly goal rather than a daily one because it’s easier to meet when life happens. Here are three options to setting this goal that you may not have considered:
  • Weekly Word Count Goal. One of the things I've found most helpful when setting word count goals is to set my goal for the week rather than the day. I still have two teenagers in and out of the house so sometimes life interrupts life. To combat this, I set a weekly word count goal for my fiction endeavors. Then, I break it down into daily totals. If I miss a day's goal, I can make it up later in the week and I don't wind up feeling like I've failed.
  • Weekly Project Goal. You may normally work on smaller projects, like articles or devotions. If that's the case, try to set a goal of one devotion or article a week.
  • Revolving Weekly Goal. You might want to try something I call a revolving weekly goal. This is where you have a different goal every week for 3 weeks and then it starts over. The first week you might complete a small project. The next week, you look for markets where you can sell it. The third week you might spend learning about the craft of writing. Then you begin the cycle again.
Build in some room to breathe. Let’s face it, life happens. And more than that, unscheduled crisis come up at the worst possible time. To combat that, I’ve learned to build some additional time into my schedule. For example, if I have an article due on August 15, I put August 10 on my schedule as the due date. This gives me room to maneuver in case I have an emergency. It also gives me the opportunity to turn something in early (always a plus for you as a writer), as well as have some extra time for editing.

Find a critique group or partner. If you’re meeting regularly with someone, you’re more apt to be producing regularly. What if you don’t know any writers nearby to meet with? Look for an online group.

All of these things can help us find the write balance in life, but I'd like to know what works for you. How have you managed the juggling act that is life today? Leave your answers in the comment section below.

Don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. Love your advice! Thanks for taking the time to share this.

  2. Life just keeps happening for me right now, and I'm going to have to go back to scheduling my time. I don't like to do it this way, but writing will be an open break from crisis management. Thanks for the nudge today Edie!

  3. I've had a wonderful year with a contract, agent, book launch, and my day job expanding to full time. You can imagine the time management challenges that came along with these blessings.

    They have forced me to:

    1) Stop procrastinating.
    2) Cut out what's not absolutely necessary.
    3) Get up earlier in the morning (5:30 A.M. - yawn).

    As a result, I'm more productive than I was prior to these life events. God gives us grace to handle the important stuff.

    Susan :)

  4. This question is a helpful one, "What are you doing now that you DON’T love more than writing?"

  5. Good tips for busy people wanting more writing time.
    Will re-blog on today