I’m not six weeks removed from the release of my first novel, and about almost half way done writing the second. One of the questions a lot of friends and strangers have asked me is, “You have two kids and a full-time job. How do you find the time to write a book?” The answer to that question might be helpful whether you plan to write a book or master some other craft… painting, knitting, paddle boarding, cooking, or iPhone screen repair (fact: 105% of iPhone screens break). Here’s my very-full, but very enjoyable day (this is exactly what happened to me Tuesday).
My wife and I have two kids, 5 and 2. Morning is a contact sport. Sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 the 2 year old wakes up, setting off a chain reaction of coffee, toast, bagels, peeled apples, milk, Tom & Jerry reruns, crying, pushing, getting dressed, combing hair, brushing teeth, gnashing of teeth, and dashing out the door. In the midst of all that, I’m already handling emails and customer calls.
Some mornings, I drop my son off at pre-school and my work day in the field starts. Yesterday I had to visit with customers over 3 counties, and a side trip our warehouse. I covered over 200 miles, sent and received about 30 emails (a light day) and 30 phone calls (also a light day). Did I mention the 200 miles I drove? When I wasn’t on the phone I listened to The Rocking Self Publishing Pocast (Simon Whistler’s interview with first time novelist and best-selling author Chuck Rose) and then an audio book that is research for the current book I’m writing (I can’t tell you because it would be a spoiler). I would NEVER have time to read the book, but the audio book makes it possible. In the midst of my work day, I probably got close to 3 hours of information and research related to my publishing work. This was key.
My wife had a 5pm meeting and a class from 6 to 9 so I rushed home to take over with the kids.
The next four hours involved kinetic sand, Star Wars Toys, Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, a trip to the grocery store, more work emails, breaking up two fights, chicken dinner, baths, tidying up the house, and putting both kids to bed. When my wife came home, my son was still hanging around resisting bed.
At 9:45 I was exhausted, but totally motivated. Why? The three hours I spent listening to the postcast and audio book left my mind with so many ideas, I was chomping at the bit to get back to work on my book. My wife turned on a reality TV show (we met in grad school, don’t judge us), the perfect background noise for working on my book. I’m now 24,000 words into that book, which will probably be 75-80,000 words. I finally put it down around 12:15 and fell asleep immediately. At 6:30 my daughter woke again and another 18 hour day started.
Even though I didn’t open my laptop until almost 10pm, I felt like my writing was there all day. For me, podcasts have been better than taking writing classes. Whatever craft you wish you had time for, I guarantee there’s a podcast on Podcast Addict for it (it’s an app, get it, or one like it). Listen on your commute, at your desk, at lunch. Including my time in the car, I got more than 5 hours of writing related time in my day, even though it only used the last two hours of my night.
But Jonathan, I just don’t have that much energy.
Neither do I. I don’t always get that much done. Days can go by without getting much done on my writing. But days like Tuesday are more common than they used to be, and even on my worst days, I get a little done. Little by little it adds up.