I’m a words person. I love all the words. I love crafting sentences that make readers’ insides constrict or heads nod in agreement. I was the girl who outwardly complained about having another essay due in English class, but inwardly planned out my entire introduction before I walked out of the classroom.
Now in my 30’s, and past the teenage worry of what friends thought of my “nerd-isms,” I’ve written countless magazine articles and blog posts, one fiction (unpublished, for now) novel, a short ebook, and am currently in the process of working with my literary agent to finalize a non-fiction book proposal for publishers this summer.
I’ve been asked quite a few times, “How do you write a book?”
And the answer is the same every time, “I sit down and write.”
It seems too simple, right? But I imagine it’s similar to those who want to run a marathon or paint a mural. They run or they paint. They put their feet to the ground or their hands to the paper and just do it.
But that’s the hardest part, right? The hard part is the grind behind each step, each paint or key stroke across your blank canvas.
The preceding question to how to write a book is always – always – “How do you write a book with your busy schedule and kids?”
If people are asking me, then I know there must be some sort of personal need or desire behind the question. So here are my top tips for writing a book (or doing whatever “your thing” is) as a busy mom:
1. Make a plan.
Set small goals. When planning ahead set specific, measurable goals. When I write, I set a word count of 500-700 words per writing day. That may not (or may!) seem like a lot, but I know it’s what I can realistically get done in one writing session with kids, laundry, dinner, husband, and work all waiting on me. I can usually knock this out in an hour-ish, so I slowly began setting my alarm clock back by 30 minutes each week in order to get some writing time in. My alarm now goes off every morning at 5am in order to get some writing in, plus everything else I need to do before my kids wake up. To finish a 60,000 word book, and writing 5 days a week, this will realistically take me 6 months.
Don’t write? Well, set a goal of finishing just the background of a new painting in one week, or 4 new pieces of artwork in 4 months. Set a goal of 2 mile or 20 minute run (or whatever you are realistically and safely capable of when first starting out).
Schedule it. Anything you want to do is going to take time. Write it down in your planner or add to your iCal, then do not let anything interrupt it. Hire a babysitter if you need to, send the kids out to play in the sprinkler, or put a movie on for an hour or so while you do you thing. Get your husband or other family member on board to help out so you can have your time to do your thing and meet your small goals.
How can you measure out a specific goal for whatever you do? And when do you plan to do it?
2. Write. Or paint. Or sew. Or run.
This is the hard part. Now, you have to sit down and simply do it. You’ve committed the time, now turn off all electronics, notifications, and distractions and get away where you can focus and pound feet to the pavement or fingers to the keyboard.
3. Stay Motivated.
This is where your end goal must stay at the forefront of your mind. Do what you have to do to keep it there. Tape your goal up on your mirror where you can see it or search for a community group on Facebook for people who do the same thing as you. Trust me, seeing people posting about doing the thing you want to do does wonders for motivation.
Nobody cares about the book you almost finished and nobody cares about the marathon you didn’t actually run. (Trust me from experience on this one. I’m looking at you winter storm of 2013 that canceled the St. Jude Marathon.) The only person who cares is you. And you are the one who matters most when it comes to hitting your goalS.
So, mama, make a plan, do the thing, stay motivated and finish strong. Because, for once, you deserve to start and finish something you want to do.