The Page a Day Writers Group

Mommy writer time management

Posted on: August 20, 2010

This image from cartoonist Jim Benton perfectly captures the life of a mommy writer

Virginia Woolf famously said “…a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction… ”

I’d like to add that if she is a mother, she must also have reliable childcare and superb time management skills.

All you mommy writers know how hard it is to scoop out an hour or two of your already packed day to devote to your fictional families when your real-world family needs so much. I think I’ve gotten the hang of this writing-while-parenting gig, and since I’m often asked “how do you manage to finish your books?” I’m here to share my few not-so-secrets.

1. A or B? This is the simplest and best time management technique I have. Divide your time into two categories: A) things you cannot do while the children are around and B) things you can do while they’re around. If you begin evaluating your day this way, you’ll quickly understand A) means “write” and B) means “everything else.”

A) requires sustained, uninterrupted concentration

B) short bursts of attention

Therefore, when you do have time to yourself and are tempted to divert from writing by tending to dirty dishes, laundry, errand-running etc. remind yourself that you can do those things when the kids are around. It’s best to draw a hard line and keep to the rules. Once you’ve spent a couple hours on your fiction, then you can turn your attention to other matters. At least you will have met your quota of daily pages (and yes, you should have one, only if it’s to produce one single page).

Secondly, keep “office hours” in your household. Whether you prefer to rise early and write until daybreak or you stay up late to greet the witching hour, take 2 hours as office time. Even if you don’t have an office, like me, you can again invoke the hard line and go off-duty after the kids are in bed. If they’re down at 8:30, spend an hour tidying or eating ice cream and reading the paper (or whatever your nightly decompression ritual happens to be). At 9:30, your “office” opens for a brief period of business. Go to the coffee shop, sit on the patio or in the bedroom and write.

This works well with teens too, who don’t want to be bothered with you anyway.

Simple but effective. A & B allow you to focus your attention on the people who most need it without either family compromising the other.

Kirsten Imani Kasai

P.S. Be sure to check out my Ice Song podcast at Suvudu.com! Office hours, girls, office hours.

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1 Response to "Mommy writer time management"

These are excellent ideas. I try to keep a schedule, but life, especially kids, force me to change things around a bit. ‘Tis the nature of motherhood. Flexibility has to go in there somewhere, too. Ha!

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Who are we?

The Page a Day Writers Group is a diverse collection of wonderful writers based in San Diego, CA. We've been meeting monthly since 2004. Our primary function is in-depth writing critique, marketing and brainstorming, but there's usually some wine, chocolate and ribaldry involved too. We write fantasy, humor, literary fiction, nonfiction, romance, thrillers and YA. Join us on our journeys to publication and the wonderland beyond!

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