Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Writing Schedule in the Summer

If you're like me, you're curious as to how writers do it all. They may have busy careers, small children at home, elderly parents to care for, or all of the above. Yet, they continue writing, and many keep churning out amazing books year after year. Their non-writing responsibilities haven't gone away. How do they do it?

Morning Routine @ Work
Photo by willsisti

I don't know. I'm not big on comparing--it just makes me feel bad. I do know that we all have different personalities, different rhythms, different ways of approaching things. My way would not work for everyone but it works for me.

My children are old enough to make their own breakfast and entertain themselves for a few hours upon waking. I set my alarm, get up early, and write or revise until noon. The kids know I'm all theirs after lunch. I do not cheat them of this time, and they in turn, respect that I'm working in the morning. A few days a week, after dinner, I spend a few hours on social networking, blogging, and updating websites.

I always feel a push-pull between my writing and family responsibilities. It's hard to mix it up right each day. Some days, I'll feel I should have spent more time with my family. Others, I'll panic that I haven't checked blogs in forever. I'm making peace with it, because it's not something that's going to go away.

Ten years ago, I wrote up a personal mission statement for my life. I no longer have the copy, but I clearly remember my priorities. 1. God 2. Husband and children 3. Work/personal pursuits.

I don't believe I need to spend every hour of every day catering to my children to prove they are a priority in my life. However, I can easily let my personal mission of being published overtake every waking minute. So I set aside each afternoon in the summer to spend with my kids--no writing allowed. In a few short years, I won't have the opportunity to spend precious summer hours with them. They'll grow up. They won't live here forever.

Writing has been my career (although I'm not yet published) for almost three years. My writing goals are attainable but challenging, and I push myself hard to meet them, even during the summer. Discipline isn't always fun. It doesn't always feel good. But without it, my writing would sputter to a stand-still in the summer.

With any career commitment, we have to juggle responsibilities, and those tasks don't always fall into an easy nine-to-five schedule.

Does your writing schedule change in the summer? How do you feel about it?

Join me on Friday to set one goal!


  1. It sounds like you have found a really nice balance. I think it's great that your kids see you at work and know to respect that time and effort you are putting in. Having younger kids, I haven't quite hit that balance yet & mostly try to cram writing in when they're sleeping.

  2. Hi, Jill. I admire you for your committment and your ability to priortize your responsibilities in a way to ensure you reach those goals. My schedule is very similar to yours in the summer, although I try to get my kids out of the house or do something with them earlier in the day and spend a few hours in the late afternoon along with my few hours in the early morning each day.

    My schedule changes each season, it seems, but I will always try to make something work in order to keep striving toward those goals.

  3. I think on paper you have a perfect balance for your priorities. For me the hard part would be mentally, like you said not feeling guilt one way or another for not doing it all. I think we are all in the same boat and give each other grace having the same priorities list as you. :O)

  4. My writing schedule pretty much stays constant all year, except for some time I take off from blogging later in the summer. But even then, I'm still writing!

  5. I find the hardest issue is to stick to the discipline. Especially when a pothole appears suddenly in the middle of the road. I just try to keep dancing as fast as I can.

  6. It feels weird to be in between manuscripts. I know I have a load of editing awaiting me, but I miss cranking away at a novel.

    ~ Wendy

  7. This is exactly what has been on my mind this morning. My son isn't two-years-old yet, so writing while he's awake is difficult. I have a full time job and with the longer days, my son doesn't want to go to sleep until 9. I get up to head to the gym at 5:15am. I'm struggling to fit my writing time in every day, but I'm just taking it a day at a time.

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  9. Kelly: I didn't attempt much writing when the kids were little. I wrote short stories and belonged to a writing group with assignments twice a month. It was all I could do.

    Heather: The key is working around the kids' temperaments. We're all best in the afternoon, but others are better in the morning. Do what works!

    Diane: Yeah, everything looks good on paper! I've had a migraine the last two days. We've been stuck at home with me in bed. Not on the schedule! But God has grace for me and gets us through it!

    Em: Thanks!
    Joanne: I love your re-posts later in the summer. Actually, I love all your posts!

    CJ: Dancing--isn't that the word for it? I hear you!

    Wendy: It's been a long time since I've been in first draft--I miss it! Good luck revising!

    Julie J: When my kids were young, I barely wrote. Try not to kill yourself. Even if you decide to set aside one hour one evening a week, you'll feel better. Maybe that's the right move for you in the summer?

  10. Hi Jill,
    With no kids, my writing schedule isn't impacted by the summer. What does impact it is my work schedule. As a freelancer, I work when there's work and don't when there's not. And it's hard to plan for when work is going to hit, or not. Regardless, I try not to let writing take a complete back seat when writing kicks into gear. I may not write every day when I'm working full out, but I try to give it its due. And I feel better for the effort because my writing muscles don't completely atrophy and I can get more done with writing when work slows back down. Patrice

  11. Hi Jill -

    Thanks for a peek at your balancing act. It sounds like you've discovered a workable schedule.

    I'm not impacted by summer vacations, but summer weather is a tempting diversion.

    Susan :)

  12. I've definitely had less time to write this summer already, but I don't mind much. I let writing take over a lot of that time during the school year so it's important to me to spend more time with the kids now. I don't have a set schedule, and with a three-year-old it's hard anyway, so I just try to set goals daily and meet them as best as possible.

  13. Patrice: Your schedule is tough, especially when traveling is involved. I'm so glad you continue to write. I completely agree with the atrophying when we don't use it!

    Susan: Isn't it though? I'm tempted right now!

    Cindy: You have a great attitude with your little ones at home. I think daily goals are great. We can fit them in at our leisure.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  14. Sounds like you have created a schedule that, importantly, keeps with you in integrity with your mission statement, and balanced. Way to go. That's inspiring for me who tends to start way too many projects, creating stress, which turns to grumpiness and effects everyone around me!

  15. Jill:
    It sounds as if you have your priorities right.
    For me, the summer is not very different. Husband is retired. I am retired. Our grown son lives with us.

  16. Thanks for sharing your summer schedule with us. My daughter popped her head out the back door (where I was writing feverishly) to see if it was okay if she made herself some dinner. I said sure, then thought OMGoodness I stink at being a parent. I put down my computer and went in to talk to her. She said no I didn't stink as a parent...She had plenty of meals I had already cooked in the freezer. I ran to the garden and picked lettuce and spinach for her salad...That was the least I could do after finding out I'm not the worst parent in the world. :)

  17. Because of my job, I won't have time to write for a while. It's a seasonal thing, so I'm hoping I'll be able to do it more in the fall.

  18. I am very impressed with your determination.

    I'm not sure what I am going to do during the summer break. I usually take what I can get, when I can get it, but I'm thinking I may have to take a few trips to the library or coffee shop. Hopefully, the park has a shady spot so I can see my laptop screen and keep an eye on the boys. That would be fantastic.

  19. Oh yes, I have more time in the summer to write! I work in a school office, so I have the summers off. I also have teens, so they don't show their faces until nearly noon. And then they are off with friends. It is almost like having an empty nest. :)

  20. Lynn: Ha! There are so many exciting opportunities--it's hard to pick just one!

    Quiet Spirit: Whenever life gets a little too hectic, I remind myself that someday summers will be much like winters!

    Sharon: You're up for worst parent award too? I bet I'll edge you out! Ha! It's so easy to feel like a failure, but hey, we're good role models for our kids, right? :)

    Kristen T: Are you going on another mission trip soon? I love living vicariously through you!

    Diane: That's a great idea. I was thinking the same thing--maybe a Panera one morning a week or something?

    Sherrinda: Too funny! I know. Teenagers don't want to hang out with mom 24/7--I wonder why? :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  21. Summers are slightly different for me, so it does take some adjusting. I'm still working on the transition this year:)

  22. It's so strange about summer. Now that I don't have kids around and don't work in a child care type setting, the year just keeps going around and around. There is no "summer." It feels weird. My babysitting goes on year round. So I'm not very good at all of this planning yet. It takes time to adjust.

  23. Does my writing schedule CHANGE?
    I haven't written one word on WIP since return from China.
    It is the fault of:

    my catchup responsibilities
    my friends, who are insisting on fun coffee dates
    the glorious open-window summer nights and sunny jog days

    Let's see. Who else can I blame?
    LOL. Need to set a goal tomorrow, don't I????

    Blessings, dear one.


  24. I haven't found the balance yet.. but I am finding my bliss.

  25. I'm still working out the kinks for my Summer writing schedule. Our Summer officially began today. I'm not a morning person, so I tend not to write in the morning. I will most likely plan a few evenings a week and an afternoon or two for writing. My blogging schedule has dropped to 1 day a week.


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