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Friday, August 02, 2013

Priorities—Juggling Family, Commitments and Writing by Edie Melson

Life is busy. This is never truer than during the summer.

We all fight the battle of too much to do and too little time to do it. And it’s one of the biggest struggles writers face. I know we all have the same 24 hours in each day, but at times it’s harder for writers. Juggling family, commitments and writing can seem like an overwhelming task.

Not because we face more time commitments, but we have the added challenge of working from home—at a job many people consider nothing more than a pleasant hobby.  Even if we have an additional job that takes us away from home, the time we spend writing is a job, and deserves the same kind of respect and priority. I shared how to combat that in an earlier post, Get Taken Seriously as a Writerby Your Family and Friends

Today I’m going to address how to give writing the time we need to, and still fulfill our other commitments? It’s not easy, but I’m going to share some tips that may help.

Decide where you want to go with your writing. You don’t have to schedule your time to get there overnight, but to get there, you do need to know where you’re going.

Take an inventory of what’s happening in your life right now. This is also going affect how much time you can realistically spend on writing.

Now answer these two question:
  • What are you doing now, that you love MORE than writing?
  • What are you doing now that you DON’T love more than writing? 

Once you have these three issues decided, here’s how to move forward.

Set deadlines. Even if you don’t have a client waiting for an article, give yourself a deadline. Then, write it down. It’s easy to fudge a deadline when it’s just in your head.

Set a weekly writing goal. If you write fiction, it may be a word goal. If you write articles or devotions, it may be a finished product goal. (For example, I’ll have 2 finished devotions every week.) I recommend a weekly goal rather than a daily one because it’s easier to meet when life happens. Here are three options to setting this goal that you may not have considered:
  • Weekly Word Count Goal. One of the things I've found most helpful when setting word count goals is to set my goal for the week rather than the day. I still have two teenagers in and out of the house so sometimes life interrupts life. To combat this, I set a weekly word count goal for my fiction endeavors. Then, I break it down into daily totals. If I miss a day's goal, I can make it up later in the week and I don't wind up feeling like I've failed.
  • Weekly Project Goal. You may normally work on smaller projects, like articles or devotions. If that's the case, try to set a goal of one devotion or article a week.
  • Revolving Weekly Goal. You might want to try something I call a revolving weekly goal. This is where you have a different goal every week for 3 weeks and then it starts over. The first week you might complete a small project. The next week, you look for markets where you can sell it. The third week you might spend learning about the craft of writing. Then you begin the cycle again.

Build in some room to breathe. Let’s face it, life happens. And more than that, unscheduled crisis come up at the worst possible time. To combat that, I’ve learned to build some additional time into my schedule. For example, if I have an article due on August 15, I put August 10 on my schedule as the due date. This gives me room to maneuver in case I have an emergency. It also gives me the opportunity to turn something in early (always a plus for you as a writer), as well as have some extra time for editing.

Find a critique group or partner. If you’re meeting regularly with someone, you’re more apt to be producing regularly. What if you don’t know any writers nearby to meet with? Look for an online group.

All of these things can help us find the write balance in life, but I'd like to know what works for you. How have you managed the juggling act that is life today? Leave your answers in the comment section below.

Edie Melson is the author of four books, as well as a freelance editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands of writers each month, and she’s the co-director of the BlueRidge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her bestselling ebook on social media has just been updated and re-released as Connections: Social Media& Networking Techniques for Writers. She’s the Social Media Mentor at MyBook Therapy and the social media director for SouthernWriters Magazine. You can connect with Edie through Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Thanks, Edie. This is timely. I never used to set goals for myself. I didn't really need to, but now I find myself setting some. The hardest part for me is to get the hubs to understand that closed door during writing time means him, too! :o}

  2. Great article. It's been hard for me to keep up with writing projects this summer. You have laid out some reasonable and achievable goals.

  3. Edie, this article came just at the right time for me :) You asked how your readers manage our juggling acts ... I don't!! Ever since my 6-yr-old got out of school for the summer, my entire writing schedule has been thrown off and I have felt completely unsettled. And with plans to homeschool this coming year there is no end in sight. When I'm writing I feel guilty about not being with him - and when I'm playing with him I feel guilty because I sometimes would rather be writing. I LOVE your idea of the revolving weekly goals - I am going to be trying that for sure! Thanks so much for the tips and encouragement.


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