How to Honor Your Writing Time When Family Is in Town
Everybody craves being with family, especially as we attempt to make up for lost time from the pandemic. I'm certainly no exception. My parents are in town from Houston, marking only the third time in two years that we've been together, and we're enjoying every minute of being with them, too. But I must admit that their visit is definitely cutting into my writing time.
Perhaps this has happened to you? You've got family in town that you've been dying to spend time with, but you've also got a budding writing career that's finally taking off! Or maybe you've found a creative sweet spot that you want to ride for as long as possible.
As much as you love your family, you can't just put that writing time on pause for two, three, or even four days. So how do you squeeze in your writing time without sacrificing family time?
I have a few tried and true tips, many of which I've been perfecting this week in between family dinners, emergency trips to Home Depot with my dad in the middle of a busy Friday afternoon, our oldest son's high school baseball games (and 15th birthday), and so many other festivities that have made my normal routine not so normal.
How can I discreetly protect my writing time?
Plan ahead – If you know you've got family coming into town for an extended stay, plan your writing time ahead of their arrival. Things get pretty busy here at Edit This®, so I created a to-do list of all my assignments for the week, then front-loaded my schedule to get as many of those writing projects done before anyone showed up. For example, my parents weren't coming into town until late Thursday, so I worked my tail off Monday through Thursday afternoon to get as much done and out of the way as possible. This freed me up for more family time and made me less stressed about the assignments I hadn't gotten to yet. Even if working ahead isn't feasible, having your responsibilities laid out ahead of time helps you plan better AND see just how much progress you're making.
Redefine office hours – I wrote about this in my book, Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion For The Written Word, and it certainly holds true for when you need to juggle writing time and family time. I got up at 4 a.m. twice this week to get my writing time in before anyone else woke up. I stayed up late on other nights when I wasn't too tired. It was the best decision I could have made to give myself flexibility during the day while still staying on task.
Explain to your family what your needs are – I'm the only writer in my family, so it's difficult for them to understand what I need from a creativity and time standpoint. So I tell them, in the nicest way possible, of course. For example, "Hey, guys, if we will be doing family stuff for most of the day tomorrow, I need at least four hours of uninterrupted time in the morning to get some work done." If you communicate your wishes and listen to theirs, everything seems to fall into place.
Make the most of the time you do have – Even if you follow all of these tips above, you may still feel that there isn't enough time in the day to get everything done. In situations like this, make the most of the time you do have. When you sit down to write – use that entire time to write. In other words, don't waste time checking your emails, cruising the Internet for a quick gossip fix, or checking social media. Write!
Be OK with a little change – Be OK with the fact that your normal routine will experience a few hiccups as you juggle writing time and family time. Take a deep breath, enjoy the fact that you finally get to be with your family, and fit in your writing time as best as you can. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish.
I hope these tips help you honor your writing time when the family is in town. Which of these do you think you can incorporate right now? What did I leave out? Please send me a message, and let's keep the conversation going.
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*STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX. He is also the author of Write Like You Mean It. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.