When you announce to your family and friends that you’re working on a book, the reactions always vary. For the most part, people are relatively interested and supportive. But after a while, you find yourself bombarded with the same questions and statements: When can I read your book? Why did you decide to write? I know someone who wrote a book, you should call them! Did you know you can sell on Amazon?
Since beginning my writing journey, my favorite question by far has been Where do you find the time to write? Ironically, it comes from the same people who constantly point out how busy and messy my life can be. The ones who remind me that between the kids, my spouse, my day job, the house, the activities, the pandemic, grocery shopping, doctor visits, and the millions of other weekly tasks, I barely have time to wash my hair.
As much as I know there is truth to the question, it still makes me laugh. So often, mothers are asked where they find the time for passions or jobs or anything other than raising kids. We get called nicknames like “Super Momma” or “Super Woman,” which are meant with the best of intentions but really sound a bit condescending; as if wanting to work and have a family as a woman is a supernatural concept.
We don’t find the time. We’re not living in a video game where time is a prize hovering around in shiny orbs, waiting for us to collect and stockpile. Moms Who Write are just like any other dedicated professionals who are working towards a dream. We don’t find time– we make it.
When you have a goal, a dream you’re following, you have to look at your day as if it were a game of Tetris– ok, now we’re in a video game. With each new piece of life that falls, writing moms have to anticipate every possible twist and turn to figure out where they can write in this part of the day. The pieces change quickly; sometimes nothing fits. But we can’t just quit because life never stops. We have to continue to roll with whatever elements are thrown our way, doing our best to prioritize and adjust.
In real life, a day in the life of a Mom Who Writes like me could look a bit like this:
5:00 am– Wake up. Coffee. Work. Switch to writing.
6:00 am– Give kids milk and a stack of books. Coffee. Go back to writing.
7:00 am– Pull out hidden toys kids forgot about to buy another hour of writing.
8:00 am– Feed monsters (kids). Continue writing at the kitchen counter. Coffee.
9:00 – 11:00 am– Home school. Possibly write while kids are playing sand, or journaling, or reading. Make Language Arts about storytelling and book writing to steal their ideas for future books (with credit of course).
BREAK– Let Elmo teach for an hour while I write upstairs. Lock door. Tell children Elmo dies if they leave the couch. Coffee.
12:00 pm– Lunch. Write at the countertop. Avoid toaster oven.
1:00- 3:00 pm– Take kids outside. Bring 2 pens and 2 notebooks. Leave one in the front yard and one in the backyard in case I get to sit down (HA!). Large coffee.
4:00 pm– Maybe take a break to read. Maybe run around like a crazy person. Maybe write on my phone in the bathroom. Maybe write laying down in the driveway while also serving as a stopper of rogue toddler vehicles. Maybe at urgent care. Maybe at the park. Maybe at baseball. Tylenol.
5:30 pm– Dinner. Too messy to write. Lots of stains.
6:00 pm– Outside again to run off extra energy. Decaf tea (or coffee). Brainstorm writing ideas for later.
7:00 pm– Clean up. Baths. Milk. Storytime. Yelling. Chase the little one. Sing to the middle one. Read to the older one. Sit on whichever kid refuses to stay in bed.
8:00 pm– Bedtime. Write on my phone while lying in a kid’s bed.
NIGHT– Coffee. Sit down to record the random thoughts and observations of the day that I hope will inspire me later or help to fill a novel, a poetry book, a kid’s book, a will. Don’t try to edit. It’s all going to look like crap in the morning. Might want to make sure I finished my actual job too.
BEDTIME- Maybe. Or write more.
Most mom writers don’t have the luxury of waking up and saying, “Honey, I’m going to my writing study with my breakfast. Bring me lunch when it’s ready.” We don’t get to take relaxing walks to clear our minds or just pop out for a bit if we feel stuck. Remember popping out? Popping out of the house by yourself? Magic.
For me, a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom who works freelance, my writing schedule is what I make it. I have to get creative; use audio notes in the car to talk-write, leave extra early for appointments, bring journals with me everywhere. I have to sacrifice time away from my family and friends to finally work alone, which is also the same time everyone else is off work and getting together.
There’s time. There is always time. Using it to your advantage is where it gets tough. You could clean, or do dishes, or watch a television show when the kids go to bed. But if you are awake, and focused, writers know what they should be doing instead.
It’s not easy, by any means, but this busy life is not forever. Get creative. Be outrageous. Strategize every moment to get your words out. And when those pesky supporters come along and ask where you find the time, just smile and challenge: “You’re right. I have no time. Was that your offer to babysit?”
About the Writer: Shell Sherwood is a poet, fiction writer, freelancer, and creator of silly children’s stories who could live on coffee, pastries, and romantic tragedies. She lives in Hudson Valley, NY with her fiancé and three boys, and aspires to own a small writing getaway in every climate. Learn more about Shell and follow her writing journey via her author blog and Instagram.