Priorities—Juggling Family, Commitments and Writing by Edie Melson

Life is busy. This is never truer than during the summer.
We all fight
the battle of too much to do and too little time to do it. And it’s one of the
biggest struggles writers face. I know we all have the same 24 hours in each
day, but at times it’s harder for writers. Juggling family, commitments and
writing can seem like an overwhelming task.
Not because we
face more time commitments, but we have the added challenge of working from
home—at a job many people consider nothing more than a pleasant hobby. 
Even if we have an additional job that takes us away from home, the time we
spend writing is a job, and deserves the same kind of respect and priority. I
shared how to combat that in an earlier post, Get Taken Seriously as a Writerby Your Family and Friends
Today I’m going
to address how to give writing the time we need to, and still fulfill our other
commitments? It’s not easy, but I’m going to share some tips that may help.
Decide where
you want to go with your writing.
You don’t have to schedule your time to get there overnight, but to
get there, you do need to know where you’re going.
Take an
inventory of what’s happening in your life right now.
This is also going affect how much time
you can realistically spend on writing.
Now answer
these two question:
  • What are
    you doing now, that you love MORE than writing?
  • What are
    you doing now that you DON’T love more than writing? 

Once you have
these three issues decided, here’s how to move forward.
Set
deadlines.
Even if you
don’t have a client waiting for an article, give yourself a deadline. Then,
write it down. It’s easy to fudge a deadline when it’s just in your head.
Set a weekly
writing goal.
If you
write fiction, it may be a word goal. If you write articles or devotions, it
may be a finished product goal. (For example, I’ll have 2 finished devotions
every week.) I recommend a weekly goal rather than a daily one because it’s
easier to meet when life happens. Here are three options to setting this goal
that you may not have considered:
  • Weekly
    Word Count Goal
    . One of
    the things I’ve found most helpful when setting word count goals is to set my
    goal for the week rather than the day. I still have two teenagers in and out of
    the house so sometimes life interrupts life. To combat this, I set a weekly
    word count goal for my fiction endeavors. Then, I break it down into daily
    totals. If I miss a day’s goal, I can make it up later in the week and I don’t
    wind up feeling like I’ve failed.
  • Weekly
    Project Goal
    . You may
    normally work on smaller projects, like articles or devotions. If that’s the
    case, try to set a goal of one devotion or article a week.
  • Revolving
    Weekly Goal
    . You might
    want to try something I call a revolving weekly goal. This is where you have a
    different goal every week for 3 weeks and then it starts over. The first
    week you might complete a small project. The next week, you look for markets
    where you can sell it. The third week you might spend learning about the craft
    of writing. Then you begin the cycle again.

Build in
some room to breathe.

Let’s face it, life happens. And more than that, unscheduled crisis come up at
the worst possible time. To combat that, I’ve learned to build some additional
time into my schedule. For example, if I have an article due on August 15, I
put August 10 on my schedule as the due date. This gives me room to maneuver in
case I have an emergency. It also gives me the opportunity to turn something in
early (always a plus for you as a writer), as well as have some extra time for
editing.
Find a
critique group or partner.
If
you’re meeting regularly with someone, you’re more apt to be producing
regularly. What if you don’t know any writers nearby to meet with? Look for an
online group.
All of these
things can help us find the write balance in life, but I’d like to know what
works for you. How have you managed the juggling act that is life today? Leave
your answers in the comment section below.

Edie Melson is the author of four books, as well as a
freelance editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. Her
popular blog,
The Write Conversation, reaches thousands
of writers each month, and she’s the co-director of the
BlueRidge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her bestselling
ebook on social media has just been updated and re-released as
Connections: Social Media& Networking Techniques for Writers. She’s the Social Media Mentor at MyBook Therapy and the social media director for SouthernWriters Magazine. You can connect with Edie through Twitter and Facebook.