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Tuesday Tip #143

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hi Everyone! It's Natalie here today. Today I have a fantastic tip from Rory Shay. This is her first tip here. She has a great website/blog where she blogs about the writing and publishing process, so be sure to check it out.

Tip:  How to balance the rest of your life while writing:

A lot of people have asked me how I manage having a family, a young infant, a full-time consulting career, a position on a non-profit board of directors, and socializing with friends while I write novels at the same time.  Balance is definitely the key word because it is truly a balancing act.  Obviously my family and child come first, no matter what.  But I am also super-focused when I write.  It’s like I’m in another world where not much else breaks through.  So how do I fit it in?  I work in short little stints, whenever I can get in a few minutes…after my child goes to sleep at night, on a day off from work, while the baby is napping, etc.  I carry paper with me wherever I go, and if a good idea or a good few lines hits me, I'll write them down immediately.  It doesn't matter if it's during a particularly dry meeting at work or in the middle of cooking dinner.  I take every opportunity and don’t wait for a long stretch of free time.  Even 10 minutes is enough to open my laptop and jot down a few paragraphs.

I wrote most of my first YA fiction novel, ELECTED, while I was on maternity leave.  I was worried I’d be bored at home for four months, and everyone kept telling me that the last thing I’d be was bored.  But when it came down to it, my child slept for about 17 hrs a day for the first four months.  So when I wasn’t napping with her, I spent a lot of time writing.  It was January, and I had to find something with which to occupy myself  indoors because of the weather.

Most of the writers I know do it as a hobby, not as a full-time career.  So that means most of them are also balancing a bunch of other priorities.  If anyone else has advice on how they balance writing in the middle of everything else they do, I’d love to hear it!

11 comments:

  1. Great tips Rory on balancing it all, which can be so hard. I've been trying your writing in little stints tip and it's helping me get more writing in. Thanks so much for the suggestion.

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  2. What helps me get more writing done is to do some writing first, before I start checking e-mail or opening my blog reader. That way, I at least get a little bit done before I get too distracted.

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  3. Balance is so important, keeps us on our toes! Thanks for sharing the tip!

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  4. I think my first child cried for 17 hours a day for her first four months! Still, you obviously took your writing very seriously to get that much work done on mat leave. Congratulations!

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  5. Ha, I was going to say the same thing as Beth - my baby definitely didn't sleep 17 hours a day. But when she turned one year old, my mom gave me a wonderful gift of time and watched her for one day a week. This was my writing day - I didn't do anything else that day, no shower, no laundry, meals at my computer, and I finished a whole novel that way. Later, when I returned to work, I had a flex schedule where I had one day off every other week, and that became my writing day. Thanks for sharing, Rory.

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  6. I think it's difficult to find balance. Usually some things fall by the wayside. Laundry? Sometimes I have to say no. My family and work already take a lot of time, so I don't want to lose writing too.

    I didn't write until my youngest was 4. Maternity leave writing sounds like a good strategy for a first born.

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  7. Talk about inspirational! I'm about to add another little one to my family in a few months, and I'm nervous about what it will mean for my writing...but you've given me hope that I just need to find the right balance, and everything will work out :)

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  8. Like Rory, I usually have paper with me or, at least, can jot down an idea as a note on my phone. I've actually let people go ahead of me in line because I'm typing away on my phone.

    I am very dedicated to taking a lunch break at work away from my desk. Most days you can find me sitting in my car with a notepad or laptop. Most of my writing happens here (unless I take a nap). This is also a good time/place to record what you have written so you can listen to the spoken words.

    And as I type this, it's almost lunchtime! Gotta grab my notepad! :)

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  9. For me it's easier to write my novels in bursts. (Discovered that during NaNo 2010.) I need time to really get into what I am writing, so short snippets don't work well for me. But in two months of unbalance I can produce a first draft and then slowly work on it from that point.

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  10. Great tip Rory, I can relate to utilizing small amounts of time as well as Alex's need for more time to get into what I'm writing. I think that is where the balance comes in for me. I can utilize 10 minutes for brief ideas and I do write them down in a small notebook, but when I'm ready to work on a draft or revisions, I plan a couple late nights as well as entire weekends sometimes :)

    Thanks for sharing. I enjoy hearing about fellow writer's experiences.

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  11. I like to carry paper with me also. Sometimes, I am caught without and I have a great idea or vision (or so I think) I write on anything available: church bulletin, junk mail,anything not to lose the moment.

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