Today, my friend Chantele Sedgwick is here talking about writing vs. family time. Chantele and I met a few years back because we shared a publisher. Now she and I serve together on the LDStorymakers Board of Directors. If you’ve heard of the amazing writers’ Storymakers Conference in Utah, well, she’s the co-chair this year and next, and she’s doing a fabulous job! (I’d tell you to register for this conference, but it’s already sold out. Go next year!) Chantele is the author of several fun YA/MG romances, so make sure to check them below her bio.
Here she is:
Chantele Sedgwick: One of the questions I get asked most since being published is “How do you have time to write with four little kids at home?”
Let me tell you the answer.
I don’t. :)
But really. It’s an ongoing struggle. When I first started out, which was right after I had my first baby, I would write whenever he napped. I thought I had all the time in the world to write and wrote every second I could since napping/eating is basically all babies do.
Until he started crawling.
And walking. Actually, he skipped walking and just started running.
Writing took a back seat pretty quick because shortly after, baby number 2 came along. Then came number 3 a few years later, and finally 4.
When I decided to really pursue this whole writing thing and try to get published, (after baby number 2), I had a decision to make. Could I sacrifice my dream to raise my children the right way and put off writing until they were grown? Or could I somehow make it work by writing and raising my little family at the same time?
I chose the second, and I want to share a few things that have helped me with my decision the past 9 years.
Make a Schedule
Set aside some time during the day or night to write. Even if it’s an hour. Ten minutes.
If you want to write, you HAVE to make time for it, even if you think you don’t have any extra time at all. Some people choose to write at night. Some early in the morning (my brain doesn’t turn on until 8:00). Some write during nap time or while the kids are at school or sneak in a little at work.
Do what works for YOU.
I have a three year old who takes up all of my attention during the day and I feel it’s worth it to spend these precious few years with him until he goes to school with his siblings. And when the kids get home from school I need to be there for them too. So, my schedule right now is writing at night once the kids are in bed. I also never write on weekends since those are date nights with my hubby. :)
Do I wish I had a little more time to write? Sure! And one day my schedule may change. But for now, this works for me.
It’s Okay to Take a Break
Sometimes, life gets hard. And busy. And it feels like you’re being pulled in a million directions.
Most of my creativity dry spells have been related to what is going on in my life at the time. Stress is a huge creativity sucker. If I’m stressed out by family things, deadlines, church callings, etc, my body knows I need to take a break from something, and it’s usually my writing. I can’t be creative when I’m being pulled so many different ways. So I take a break. Sometimes the breaks are long. Other times they’re short.
It’s okay to take breaks. Your manuscript will be there when you’re ready to dive back in.
Stop Making Excuses
I am the QUEEN of excuses when it comes to writing. I want to spend more time with my hubby. I want to binge watch Netflix and stuff my face with delicious buttered popcorn. I want to get on Facebook or Instagram and see what’s going on in the interesting lives of my friends. Curse you internet! I still don’t know all the reasons why I come up with excuses, though I have it narrowed down to a few.
- Sometimes a book idea feels so huge I’m afraid to write it right, so I keep putting it off thinking someone else will write or fix it for me. We’ve all been there, yes?
- Another reason is I lack confidence sometimes and feel like a failure. Especially when I get a rejection from an editor or some feedback on one of my books that rubs me the wrong way.
- And then there’s the guilt of spending so much time writing when I could be spending it with my family.
So many excuses. Stop making them.
Make it a goal to throw your excuses out the window and focus on your dream. You love to write and can’t live without sharing your stories, so WRITE!
Don’t Feel Guilty
There is no reason to feel guilty about writing. If it’s something you love doing and fulfills your creativity, it’s okay to take it seriously and take the time to create something wonderful. Don’t feel guilty to sign up for a few conferences to work on your craft. Don’t feel guilty to ask your spouse to watch the kids for an hour so you can write. It’s okay.
Follow your dreams and use your creativity and talents for good. If you have no support at home, which I know some writers don’t, find critique partners who you can talk to for support. There are so many writers out there going through the same thing.
And last but not least:
If you want to be a writer, don’t wait for your circumstances to change to begin. Don’t wait until you’ll “have more time”.
Trust me. You’ll never have enough time. There will always be something.
Don’t wait to pursue your dream. Do it now. The more time that passes by, the more you’ll regret not following your heart. It’s hard sometimes to make the time, but I promise, you can.
I was feeling sorry for myself one day because I can’t go to a lot of events because my children are so young and a dear friend of mine told me, “THERE’S A TIME AND A SEASON FOR EVERYTHING”. I love that advice and I take it to heart often.
Put your family first while you pursue your dreams. It’s hard at times, but so worth it.
REBECCA’S THOUGHTS: This topic is a constant battle for me, and so I’m thrilled for more ideas how to tackle this crazy balance of family and writing. I second everything you’ve said! Family comes first, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way to make time for writing. Scheduling time has helped me so I don’t get frustrated when I don’t always get the time I want to write–I know writing time is coming soon. Also the Don’t feel guilty aspect, going both ways. Write when I need to write, and don’t write when my family needs me. No guilt either way. Right now, I’d hoped to be finished with The Pursuit, but kids and family stuff kept coming up. I’ve told myself (and my forgiving readers) that it’s coming. Eventually. And that’s good enough for now. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts, Chantele. Good luck with all your writing adventures!
How do you balance home and writing time? What tips have worked for you? Comment here.
Chantele Sedgwick is a YA and MG author, harpist, wife to one and mom to four. She loves fairy tales, happy endings, Kit Kats and (judging by her bookshelves) buying way too many books. She lives in Utah with her family and can usually be found reading, or talking her husband’s ear off with her endless supply of book ideas. She’s the author of Not Your Average Fairy Tale, Not Your Average Happy Ending, Love, Lucas, Switching Gears (Feb. 7, 2017) and Interlude (Fall 2017). Chantele is represented by Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency.
OTHER MARCH BOOK MADNESS POSTS:
Check back tomorrow for our last day of March Book Madness when author Julie L. Casey talks about the dreaded comma and how to use it more intuitively. See you then!
2016 MARCH BOOK MADNESS SCHEDULE :
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- Tue, Mar 1: Playing Fair: Good Guys vs. Bad Guys by Rebecca Belliston
- Wed, Mar 2: How to Self-Edit Your Work by J.J. Lyon
- Thu, Mar 3: 6 Ways to Choose Great Character Names by A.L. Sowards
- Tue, Mar 8: How to Energize Your Writing by Charissa Stastny
- Wed, Mar 9: 10 Things Your Freelance Editor Wishes You Knew by Sarah Belliston
- Thu, Mar 10: Creativity: A Process, Not a Product by Teresa Hirst
- Tue, Mar 15: 6 Tips to Avoid Author Burnout by Danyelle Ferguson
- Thu, Mar 17, How Book Clubs Can Help Authors by Charity Bradford
- Tue, Mar 22, The Writing Formula: Success in Any Genre by Jen Johnson
- Wed, Mar 23, Rejection & a Broken Muse by Ranee` S. Clark
- Thu, Mar 24, Writing the Movie in Your Head by Gerald N. Lund
- Tue, Mar 29, Writing vs. Family: How to Choose Which to Focus on by Chantele Sedgwick
- Wed, Mar 30, Intuitive Grammar: The Comma Dilemma by Julie L. Casey
PREVIOUS MARCH BOOK MADNESS YEARS:
- WHERE TO START: Genre | Plot | Setting | Finding Time to Write
- EDITING: Beats | Beta Readers | Chapters | Critique Groups
- CHARACTERS: Accents | Flaws | Moral Dilemmas|Motivation|Non-verbal Cues
- PUBLISHING: Querying | Marketing | Designing