Finding Time to [Insert Activity Here]

Everywhere I look, writers are looking for time to write. There are only 24 hours in the day, and when you subtract sleep, working at your full-time job (which most of us do), taking care of children and the house, that doesn’t leave much.  People who don’t write are having the same issues fitting in their hobbies, whether it be playing board games, golfing, running, sewing, or baking.

At our house, my hobby is writing fiction, and my husband plays golf. As a a family, we like to put puzzles together, play board games, and going exploring/hiking at battlefields. Lately, I think we have done a good job fitting together all sorts of things we like to do.

Writing is a solitary hobby. If I spent all of my spare time at a keyboard, I wouldn’t be a very good wife or mother. So here’s to our attempt to find balance.

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Here are a few tips to make the most of your day:

  • Make an appointment with yourself. Instead of just saying I’ll fit it in later, give yourself a specific time and stick to it. Be as specific as possible. For example, at 9:00 after the kids are in bed I’m going to work on revising Chapter 7. Or, While the kids are at basketball practice I’m going to the gym to exercise.
  • Set realistic goals and deadlines. It helps you find time to make those edits if you know you’ve committed to have them by a certain date. This can be problematic if you are an indie writer. First drafts and edits can drag out longer than they need to. I am guilty of this.
  • Brainstorm constantly. I’m using Evernote on my phone and computer to track random thoughts about characters, future scenes, and plot ideas for future projects. We all have dead time, whether it’s standing in line at the grocery store, waiting at the DMV office, or waiting for a child’s event to start.  Fill it by typing away on your little phone, and you’ll be amazed what gems you can keep.  Quietly type in bits of conversation that you may overhear to study later and perhaps throw in as dialog. Everyone else will think you are just playing a game.
  • Cut back on scheduled events. You don’t have to attend every invitation that comes through your inbox or even your mailbox. Be choosy with your time. If you are going out of a sense of obligation and not enjoyment, sometimes you can bow out and send a gift instead.
  • Cut back on the frequency of “maintenance” activities. Grocery shop only once a week instead of making multiple trips to the store. Don’t go shopping at all unless it’s something you absolutely have to have. Cook enough for two meals and have the second portion later.
  • Delegate. My kids are old enough now that they are helping with laundry and household chores. As they get older, this will increase. It’s important that every child learn what it takes to make a household run smoothly.
  • Hire it out if you can. My husband and I agreed a while back that we would have a lawn service because it’s not something that either one of us enjoys. Soon I hope to add a house-cleaning service into the mix.
  • Cut back on television, and the Internet. I know, ouch, right? Enough said.

These are just some ideas. Don’t feel guilty about finding time for fun. Our lives shouldn’t be all drudgery. Sometimes we get sucked into doing nothing but work, kid’s activities, cleaning, and sleep.

Take time to do a puzzle.

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Or go to a battlefield. Here’s a picture from a trip we recently took to a local battlefield where participants were dressed in period costumes from the Revolutionary War.

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Carve out time with the family to go on hikes, explore local battlefields, and play games. Carve out time for yourself to do what you like, too. I think it’s important for kids to know that mom and dad have interests away from them, whether it’s golf, writing fiction, or going to a movie for a girls’ night or afternoon out. Laundry can wait.

(Note these pictures are all mine. Please do not use without permission)