Sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle of a story problem. You know the one where you have a snake, a cheeseburger and a baby. You can't leave any of them alone, and you must take them all across a river without any of them getting wet (or eaten!), or something like that. There's no bridge and no rope. How are you going to make it across safely?
This morning I raced to get two of my kids to the doctor, fed them breakfast in the car, prayed that my two year old at home wouldn't go 'play' in my office where I'd left an unsaved document open on the computer, and jotted down a great idea for my antagonist on my i-phone while I waited for our appointment. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of all that, I took a breath or two.
I'm trying to fit in writing a query and a summary, and finish my final edits in between appointments, nap times, episodes of Backyardagains and all the general demands of life. I'm not willing to put any of these down while I traverse the river.
I can't leave my writing alone...it's like my life blood. But I also have four kids, four and under, who are my life and I love their guts. They need me and I need them. So, how do I divide my time and give my attention where I need to, when I need to, in order to make it across the river?
Will we arrive on the other side of the river unscathed and alive? Some days I wonder. :)
But here's how I've solved my story problem:
1. I schedule time to write. It is sacred and untouchable. I write for at least an hour during my children's nap time, and again after they go to sleep. This gives me about two to three hours at night. Then I go to bed early (unless I'm on a roll and in the middle of a deluxe scene). I'm a morning person but instead of my usual 6:00 am routine, however, I now get up at 4:00. Not all days...but most. All in all, I get at least five hours of 'kid-free' and hopefully distraction-free writing every day.
2. I also schedule untouchable time for my kids. I do not even crack the lap top open during these times (though I've been known to scribble on the palm of my hand so I don't forget something amazing). Most, if not all of my frustration with my story problem, happens when I blur my lines and try to write and be a mom of young children at the same time.
3. There is one moment where my two worlds collide and I love it. Story time. We have a LONG story time each night where we read a few books and then tell a few of our own. I cannot tell you how many plot holes I've solved, or how many characters I've fleshed out while putting my MC in the place of the handsome prince in the story that I tell for my daughters. It's awesome and this is the moment where my life comes full circle and the tricky merge of author and mom totally works. It's like peanut butter and jelly, or chocolate and peanut butter (I love peanut butter, can you tell?)
My story problem solution isn't perfect. Occasionally we might get a bit wet or in a water fight of sorts. But I can say that at the end of the day, I make it across with out any snake bites and usually a cheeseburger to rejuvenate me. That's not to say that I don't want to change and improve how I juggle the demands of my life. And so I'm putting this out there for my blog partners, Angie and Amy, as well as all of you - how do you solve your story problems? Any tricks to the trade? Any secrets to success? Does it get more doable as the kids get older? PLEASE share! :)