by J. C. McKenzie
When I started writing Shift Happens, my debut novel, I was childless. The only responsibilities my husband and I had were paying the bills and taking care of our fur-baby (a 70 lbs American Staffy). Then our lives changed.We created this beautiful life.
While I adore everything about my son, it tipped the scales of my “balancing act.” During maternity leave, it wasn’t so bad. My writing occurred during one of my son’s many nap times, but when I went back to work, I found myself struggling to maintain my sanity. I had to go to my day job as a teacher, tutor, coach, take care of my son (basic needs, but also just playing with him and spending time with him), clean, cook, wash bottles, make lunches, and fit in workouts if I wasn’t exhausted. I still wanted to play volleyball and needed to fit that in somehow too.Luckily, my husband is a modern man and helped out a lot around the house, so not everything was solely on me. But even with the two of us plugging away at the mundane day-to-day stuff, by the time I got to put my feet up, my writing mojo wasn’t just gone, it had fled the scene, assumed an alternate identity, and holed up somewhere deeply recessed.
I needed to find time for my writing.The ultimate formula still alludes me. Right now, I’m bogged down with promotional work for Shift Happens, editing for Beast Coast and The Shucker’s Booktique (both contracted pieces), editing the third installment of the Carus Series to make it submission worthy and writing the last two books of the Carus series.
Somehow I need to fit that all in. And my current solution fits into two words: Nap Time.Just like when I was on Maternity leave, I count on these precious few hours to get everything done. I jam Social Media blasts into little breaks here and there throughout the day. I edit hard copy versions of my story during the week, so I can read in the living room and interact with my family. I reserve writing time to the afternoon nap time on the weekends and hope I make some progress. I also write after the little man has gone to bed. Now that the weather is nicer, I try to walk everywhere to fit in the workouts, but this is the area that’s having to compromise for my sanity!
What I’ve found is that my writing is more succinct. Yes, this is probably due to improving with experience, but I also think it’s because I only have a few short hours for my writing. I’ve had to mull over plot points and think about character development. When it comes time for me to sit down for some uninterrupted bliss, the words just fly onto the computer screen.Less is more, it seems.
What about you? How do you fit everything into your schedule without losing it?