by Mary Ellis
Most readers imagine authors pounding away at their computers, then taking long walks on the beach to renew their inspiration. A writer’s life must be solitary, introspective, and perhaps a bit tragic. Although there are some writers enjoying that lifestyle, most juggle other jobs too. If wish to add author to your day job and family responsibilities, I offer a few hints for accomplishing your desire.
Stick to a weekly calendar. If you have a dentist appointment, daughter’s recital, or neighborhood cookout you don’t want to miss write it on the calendar in red ink. Barring an emergency, allow nothing to usurp the event. Even recurring events like exercise classes should be written on your weekly planner. Then schedule writing “slots” in the same way and stick to them. Don’t allow Internet surfing or email to steal your valuable time.
Prioritize your tasks. If you work outside the home, schedule your time carefully. Since half an hour of devotionals is important to me, I skip the newspaper until the evening when I’m too tired for anything else. Make sure writing is part of every day. Whether it’s for hour before work, while riding the train, or on your lunch break, write a few paragraphs on your laptop. Pick and choose your social life carefully. Don’t feel you must say “yes” to every invitation, volunteer project or committee meeting. Learn to say “no” unless you truly want to devote the time.
Multi-task only if it’s productive. The only time I dust is during phone calls. I check voicemail while walking the dog. I shop and do errands on my way home from work to free up weekends for writing. But don’t make the mistake of plotting a scene during your son’s ballgame if he’s expecting you to watch him play. You will fail at both tasks.
Lower your standards. I can live with weedy flowerbeds as long as my bathrooms are clean. I don’t like clutter but dust doesn’t bother me. I take store-bought brownies to parties so I have time to write stories about women who love to cook. You can’t do it all. Repeat that mantra every morning. Give up the notion you can work two jobs and still compete with the Food Channel gurus. But if cooking is your pleasure, find another area to be mediocre in and don’t apologize.
Release the outcome. Put your future in God’s hands instead of looking too far into the future. If you dwell on how much you need to accomplish by the end of the week, the month, or the year you’ll get discouraged. Create a schedule that accomplishes your goals in small increments-such as writing one chapter per week-and stick to it. Never compare yourself to others. Pray for guidance and then listen to your intuition. This is God talking to you. Invite Him to take the helm of your life. If your goals are part of God’s plan then you cannot fail…whether it’s climbing Mount Everest, learning to speak Japanese, or finishing your first book.
Mary Ellis has written ten bestselling novels set in the Amish community. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Living in Harmony, book one of her current series won the 2012 Lime Award for Excellence in Amish Fiction. Her debut Christian book, A Widow’s Hope, was a finalist for the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards. Book two, Love Comes to Paradise has been nominated for a 2013 Lime Award. Book three, A Little Bit of Charm, has just released from Harvest House. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236