Rhymes With Smash!

The musings of Megan Paasch, and other stuff.

Finding a Balance – Writing vs. Household Management

The dishes are piling up in the sink. I’ll get to them in a minute. Right now I’m writing.

Laundry is languishing in baskets, unfolded. Rifle through them. I’m writing.

The floor is in need of vacuuming and the fridge of cleaning out. I have two pairs of slacks that I promised to hem up for a friend (and I will!), and knitting projects waiting for me in the craft bin. Sewing and knitting? I love them! But I’d rather be writing.

It’s addictive. I had no idea.

When I’m taking care of these other things, I’m jittery and grouchy. I have lines in my head. I need to get them down. I need to get my writing fix.

I’d better figure out a balance before everyone gets fed up with me. Or is this the life of a writer?

Here are a few things that have helped me. They’re probably common knowledge to more seasoned writers, but I had to figure them out the hard way:

1)      Always have a pad and pen handy for jotting down outlines and ideas, random bits of dialogue, and descriptions you don’t want to forget.

2)      If you use a laptop, keep it open and accessible. I have mine on the kitchen island. We have an open plan, and it’s right in the middle of all the household happenings. If the kids are quietly occupied (rare) and I have a minute to spare, I can type up the next couple of lines. Maybe even just a word or two. Every little bit helps.

3)      During an actual sit-down writing session (nap time and post kids’ bedtimes for me), set the task bar on “auto-hide” so you don’t clock watch or succumb to the temptation of that internet browser icon, sitting there, tempting you when you get stuck. Even better, disconnect from the internet. Also, put your phone out of reach.

4)      If you do find your fingers twitching for that phone that I’ve just told you to put out of reach, get up and do part of a chore instead. Fold a few clothes. Put a few dishes in the dishwasher. Do something useful. Sometimes a mini-break from the keyboard is all you need, and the bonus is that you get that much closer to getting your chores done.

I’m not very good at following my own advice every day, but I’m getting better.  Maybe by the end of the first draft, I’ll have a system in place.

Maybe.

And if you have any more tips for me, I would LOVE to hear them.

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6 thoughts on “Finding a Balance – Writing vs. Household Management

  1. Great tips! My writing career has grown with my kids, so I’ve definitely picked up some strategies along the way. In addition to your super ideas, a couple others that come to mind:
    * Consider using something like LeechBlock to limit your “fiddling around online” time (ahem, Facebook, cough, cough).
    * Enlist the kids in the household help. Even the little ones can pitch in in little ways! My guys *loved* using the feather duster when they were toddlers, and did a surprisingly good job, wandering around the room dusting everything from the TV to the sleeping dog.
    * Take advantage of the mind-numbing routine of cleaning. If you hit a road block in your writing, go scrub the bathroom. The repetitive, no-thought-required tasks will sometimes knock loose the ideas you were looking to hard for — and you end up with a clean bathroom AND your great idea.

    • Excellent tips, thank you! I will be checking out that LeechBlock tool, as I do have a tendency to lose track of how much time I goof around online. My kids love the feather duster too. They fight over it, so I’m getting a second one. My oldest likes to put the silverware away, and the youngest…well…he likes to put toys in the toy bin. But then he likes to dump them back out again. 😉

  2. This is great! Here’s how I try to keep a balance:
    – I leave my laptop open on my dining room table – usually on.
    – Each morning, I make a short list (really short) of a couple household chores that I WILL complete by the end of the day – and I do them.
    – When the kids go outside, I go outside and do whatever tasks need to be done there- weeds, sweeping etc. Fresh air is good for all of us 🙂
    – The kids have to help with little things: setting table, straightening coats and shoes…nothing big, but every bit helps.
    – Every now and then, when things appear to mount more than they should, I take a day off of writing and hide my laptop. It hurts, but often times I think of things that I’ll use in my MS the next day.

    • More great tips! Thank you! I am going to go get a piece of paper and make a chore list right now. I used to have a weekly schedule, back before the second kid came along. But that fell apart with the arrival of a new baby. A year and a half later, I haven’t been able to make it work again. I like the idea of just writing down a few tasks each morning. Much easier to complete without that feeling of falling behind schedule.

  3. becca puglisi on said:

    Hi, Megan. Thanks for buying a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus! I hope it helps you bunches :).

    I swear, I don’t know how any of us do this with kids, lol. I’ve got a cleaning schedule that I stick to. Instead of letting it pile up, I do one thing a day. It takes 20-30 minutes, which I can do while the kids are playing. The thing that tends to back up on me is my inbox–checks to write, mail to reply to, miscellaneous stuff. Like you, I can only write during nap time, so I schedule one day a week to take care of all those random things. I also keep a post it in my inbox where I jot down things that come up during the week. This way, I’m not tempted to take care of that stuff during writing time because I know I’m going to be addressing it on Friday.

    • You’re very welcome! Thank you for writing it! It has already been helpful. I keep it in the outside pocket of my laptop case, so it’s always handy. 🙂

      I get backed up on the inbox stuff too. And phone calls. I have so many appointments that I need to get set up. I need to take your advice about setting aside a day a week to do all of that. It’s good to take a day off from writing sometimes anyway so your brain doesn’t get bogged down.

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