Putting Off Writing That Novel Until The Kids Are Grown

If you want to​ write a​ novel,​ but are putting it​ off until the​ kids are grown,​ I have two words for you: Don't wait. It's possible to​ raise a​ happy,​ healthy family and still follow your writing dream. And that's true whether you're single or​ married. Whether you're a​ stay-at-home mom or​ work outside the​ house.

You may think I'm crazy - how can you find time to​ write when you're already so busy you barely have time to​ sleep?

It can be done.

J.K. Rowling quite famously penned the​ first of​ her Harry Potter series in​ a​ coffee shop with her baby napping in​ a​ buggy. I wrote my first novel,​ Flip-Flopped,​ in​ two years by setting my alarm for 5 a.m. every day and squeezing in​ writing before work,​ and then stealing any other time I could. I'd write a​ scene while my son built a​ Lego castle,​ or​ do some editing while he was planted in​ front of​ the​ TV for a​ half hour.

A mother of​ two small children,​ Allison Pearson turned her frustrations as​ a​ mom into the​ best-selling novel,​ I Don't Know How She Does It. She's admitted that being a​ mom and trying to​ write a​ novel is​ difficult - "like having a​ secret third child in​ the​ house that you have to​ go and play with when the​ other two have gone to​ bed,​" she's said. Still,​ she managed to​ finish in​ a​ year,​ even with holding a​ job part of​ the​ time.

The most important thing to​ keep in​ mind is​ that you don't have to​ sweep aside everything in​ order to​ write. There's this assumption that writing a​ novel means countless hours of​ uninterrupted time-just you alone in​ a​ cabin somewhere with nothing but pen and paper and maybe a​ plate of​ Oreos. That's not only impossible for most people,​ it's not even preferable. Some of​ your best writing inspiration will come from life. if​ you make writing a​ part of​ your day-to-day routine,​ you're far more likely to​ stick with it.

Some tips for combining motherhood with a​ writing career:

1. Schedule it​ in. a​ friend of​ mine has a​ regular 8 - 9 p.m. date with her computer. Barring a​ broken leg or​ the​ house burning down,​ she never misses it,​ and she rarely goes over. Knowing she has a​ limited time spurs her to​ be productive.

2. Lower your standards,​ at​ least when it​ comes to​ housework. Could the​ floor go one more day without sweeping? Could you use bottled pasta sauce instead of​ making it​ from scratch? Yes,​ June Cleaver always did everything perfectly,​ but she didn't write a​ novel. She also wasn't real.

3. Involve your kids. Plunk them down next to​ you with crayons and paper while you write. Dub it​ your "creative time."

4. Be the​ tortoise. Forget every story you've ever heard about how this or​ that author wrote a​ book in​ a​ month. Writing your novel will take as​ long as​ it​ needs to​ take. if​ you stick with it,​ you'll eventually get to​ the​ end.

5. Delegate. Women often get stuck with the​ housework because they feel they're the​ only ones who can do it​ "right." Give jobs away to​ your husband or​ kids,​ and resist the​ urge to​ re-do them - even if​ the​ towels aren't folded right or​ the​ stove doesn't gleam the​ way it​ should.

6. Consider starting small. if​ writing a​ novel seems overwhelming,​ start with a​ short story or​ even some of​ the​ super-short "flash fiction" that's popular right now. the​ bonus: It's easier to​ get short pieces published on​ the​ Internet,​ so you can amass clips.

7. Banish guilt. as​ women,​ it's hard for us to​ take time for ourselves. if​ you're feeling guilty about spending time writing,​ remember the​ saying,​ "kids learn what they see." What your children will see is​ you plugging away at​ making one of​ your dreams come true. Isn't that at​ least as​ important as​ a​ perfectly clean house?

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