One common difficulty that most writers share is setting and sticking to boundaries in terms of protecting their writing time when it comes to their friends and family. For those of us who write from the comfort of our homes, it is not uncommon for people to not take our work seriously.
Regardless of whether you’re working on deadline, writing for pleasure, or trying to get ahead on articles, blog posts, or columns the fact of the matter is people who are not writers just don’t get it.
That is not an insult to non-writers, it is merely a fact. Because most of us have to juggle the rest of our life—family, work, pets, and household obligations in addition to our writing, making the time to write is imperative—if we don’t schedule it in, most likely it isn’t going to happen. That is why boundaries are so important—if we don’t take our writing seriously, why should our family and friends?
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my favorite writing books is Writer Mama by Christina Katz. On Page 116 she discusses practicing good boundaries with the following great advice:
Set Limits on Your Time and Availability-- Don’t wait until you have a deadline looming to try and convince friends and family that your work matters and you deserve support in getting it done. Enlist the help of a trusted friend or writing buddy who can help you see the importance of what you do and that your time is well-spent working daily on your writing career.
Ask for Help When You Need It—Help might mean asking your spouse to pick up a pizza for dinner, do the grocery shopping, or take the kids out of the house for a couple of hours. It may mean trading babysitting with a mama friend. Eventually you will get the hang of it, and will reach out for help when you need to get your writing done.
Share A Bit About What You Do—Let’s not forget that most people have no idea what it takes to be a mom and a writer. You choose to combine writing with motherhood, which is your choice to make. Don’t lose your sense of humor when other moms just don’t understand all that goes into being a writer. Take the time to explain exactly what you do and why you write to make people understand how important this is to you.
Filters and Routines Help—A filter is a method of channeling your workflow to the appropriate place when it comes in so you can ignore it until you need it and then find it easily when you are ready for it. Balancing writing with the rest of your busy life is easier if you have filters in place. Examples are only checking e-mail twice a day instead of every 15 minutes, not surfing the net unless you are researching a topic for an article you are writing, trying not to read every on-line newsletter that comes your way unless it’s specifically targeted towards a subject you are writing about. Figure out what your time drains are and set up filters so that you don’t get trapped into wasting precious writing time when you have it.
Writer Mama is definitely one of my writing bibles and has helped me formulate a better writing routine for myself over the years. What boundaries do you rely on to help you achieve your daily and weekly writing goals?