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Write From Home
Kim Wilson
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610

E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com

Finding the Write Time
by Carol Sjostrom Miller

When you're juggling your kids, your spouse, housework, carpools, soccer practice and the million other things parents do, it's tough to carve out a writing schedule. But if you want to be a prolific and successful writer, it's important to have regular working hours. "I'm ten times more productive than before," says Indiana writer Shirley Jump about keeping a strict schedule. "Having a regular writing schedule is the only thing that can keep me on track with deadlines."

Here are some tips to help you carve out your deal writing schedule:

Determine what will work for you.
Every writer is different, so what works beautifully for your best writing buddy may be horrible for you. Ask yourself a few questions: Do you work best in short bursts or do you need several uninterrupted hours? What other obligations—such as work, homeschooling or caring for your children—do you need to find time for? Are your kids in childcare, preschool or school during the day? Are you an early bird, a night owl or neither?

Survey your options.
Take a good look at the 24 hours available in each day and try to determine a time when you can do nothing but write. You're sure to find something, even if you have to change your habits. "I was not a morning person, but I trained myself to be one because I didn't have enough hours in my regular day when my youngest wasn't in school," says Jump. If your kids attend preschool three mornings a week, or if they nap for an hour each day or even watch "Sesame Street," dedicate this time to writing.

Be Flexible.
Keep in mind that, although tasks like phone interviews may have to be done during business hours, you can write anytime. Have your spouse handle the bath and bedtime rituals so you can write in the evening. Or try getting up early and squeezing in some writing time while your family sleeps. Perhaps you can devote a day (or even a few hours) each weekend to your work.

Take your schedule for a test drive.
Give your writing schedule a try—and not just for a few days. Any time will have its pluses and minuses, so see what's working for you and what isn't. Don't give up too easily, but if you're consistently dozing off 20 minutes into your late night writing time, you may need to re-think your selection.

Make your writing time a priority.
Whether you decide to write during your child's nap, each morning before the sun comes up, Tuesday and Thursday nights or all day Sunday, it's important to keep your time sacred. You know what that means: no folding laundry, checking your e-mail, flopping on the couch in front of the television or checking to see what your spouse and kids are doing. "By having what I feel is limited time for working, I know I have to use it and not let it go to waste," says Andrea Mack, a writer from Ontario.

Reap the benefits.
It's not always easy to create a writing schedule and stick with it, but you'll be glad you did. "I had to force myself for about six weeks to keep my writing appointment with myself," says Erin Walton of Missouri, who writes every night from 8:00-11:00. "When I realized how much I could accomplish in just a few hours a week, I made it a daily appointment and now I hardly ever skip a day."

Carol Sjostrom Miller lives in New Jersey with her husband, Jack, and daughters, Stephanie (7) and Lauren (1). She is neither an early bird nor a night owl, so she spends every Sunday writing articles, essays and humor pieces for such publications as FamilyFun, Parenting, The Christian Science Monitor, ePregnancy, Skirt!, and Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Soul.









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