"If I had a dime for every time someone said (not knowing I have kids), “Oh, I’ve always wanted to write, but I have a little kid at home” I could buy a pony. There is such a tremendous amount of guilt associated with being a mother and having a life, I’ve discovered. But I’ve also discovered this: kids respect you for having a life."
This may be oversharing, and if so, I apologize. But right after a recent rejection, someone commented that my kids were lucky to have me as a mom. I broke down into ridiculous tears, terrified that all of this time I'm spending on writing might be in vain and I'm missing their childhoods and they will hate and resent me and zomg emo mess spaz attack....
Various friends slapped me around and I've recovered. (These posts also helped.) But it was especially heartening to hear from Maggie, a pro at both writing and parenting, that I'm probably not permanently warping my children.
Anyway. Her discussion of priorities, scheduling and goals made me reflect on the ways I define my own. Let me say: I am no great example of organization. But if I'm going to spend time away from my kids, I want to make sure I'm using it effectively. So in case it helps someone else the way Maggie's post helped me, here are a few of my methods.
1) Very visible to-do chart. I used to keep a list in a notebook, but since I started writing again, I have notebooks all over the place and can't ever find my list. I've tried several online list and calendar programs, but it's too easy for me to click "ignore." When I dropped the ball on a MAJOR project for work a few months ago, I knew something had to give, and came up with this poster board chart-- inspired by this post on visual plotting.
2) Super anal story chart. In the battle of pantsers and outliners, I am Switzerland. First draft gets spilled onto the page however it wants. But after that, I wrestle it into an Excel chart, complete with fictional dates, chapter and page numbers, POV, setting, what's happening, what needs to be changed, and even what song on my playlist fits that point in the story.
I can't tell you how helpful this thing is during multiple revisions.
3) Inspiration in my face. My new laptop has new quotes taped around the screen. One is Natalie Goldberg: "No one cares that much whether you write or not. You just have to do it." The other is from this post at JM Tohline's blog, which I apparently paraphrased: "How will you make this time count?"
When I'm tempted to waste an hour browsing threads at Absolute Write or suddenly feel compelled to update every. single. book. I've ever read on Goodreads, I think of that quote and decide what task I can complete in the time I have free. Sometimes it's writing-related, sometimes it's something else productive-- and sometimes it's just enough time to build a rocket ship.
What about you? How do you make your time count?