The 15-Minute Writer: Tips for Creatives Who Parent

 

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Photo source: https://unsplash.com/giuvicente

I began writing before God blessed me with children, and in the last eighteen years, I’ve birthed two boys and eight books. Being an author has been a grand adventure. It’s also kept me sane.

Seriously.

After having my oldest, who was a very high-needs baby, I suffered severe depression and stopped writing. One day, my counselor asked me, “Why aren’t you doing something that makes you light up whenever you talk about it?” Her question helped me realize God had called me to writing not only as a ministry to others, but also for my own growth and happiness.

Combining parenthood with a creative passion can be challenging, but I believe it’s worth the effort. If you’re a parent who longs to create, here are a few tips from the trenches:

Make the most of your kids’ sleep times.  When Jordan and Jackson were small, I used nap times to write instead of clean. Hiring a once-a-month housekeeper was well worth the expense…even when I didn’t get paid for writing. If you work full-time, dedicate a few moments after bedtime (or before your children wake up) to your art. A Netflix binge won’t feel as good as creating something–I promise.

Apply your creativity to time management. Once my sons were old enough, I enrolled them in Mother’s Day Out (two days a week) and dedicated those twelve hours a week to my art. On days we were together, I did household chores and errands with them in tow. I’ve also written by hiring a temporary sitter or working when my husband was at home. When my husband and I both worked full-time, we made one Saturday a month “guy time.” The boys enjoyed days with Dad while I worked on upcoming deadlines.

Work away from home. If you can swing it, try to write at a coffee shop or restaurant with free wifi. Another helpful habit is to participate, at least once a year, in a writing conference or retreat. For me, the expense of travel has paid off in contacts, clarity, and opportunities. (It also helps my family realize all that I do, and they appreciate me more when I get back. Talk about a win-win!)

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Photo source: https://unsplash.com/impatrickt

Say “no” to distractions. Every artist who makes time for their passion has to say “no” to social events, book club meetings, and various distractions (such as Facebook posts about organizing closets). On the days I set aside to write–first proposals and queries, now articles and books–I worked. Even if I set self-imposed deadlines, I tried (and still try) to meet them if at all possible. Take yourself seriously, or no one else will.

Be patient with yourself and your goals. I found this very difficult at first, because I began writing before my kids were born, and I’m a very goal-oriented person. However, I found contentment when I surrendered my dreams and accepted that the kids needed me now, while the writing could often wait. Try to picture your artistic pursuits as a marathon, rather than a sprint.

Pay it forward. God gave me a supportive spouse who’s also creative, so he understands my calling. I don’t take that for granted, and I try to let him have space to pursue his own passions. I also have a heart full of gratitude for the precious relatives, friends, and colleagues who’ve encouraged me along the way.

Today, I hope I’ve given you a bit of that same encouragement.

Your turn: if you’ve combined parenthood with a passion, share your tips in the comments. (Hurry, before the kids wake up!)

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This entry was posted in Encouragement, Writer's Life, Writing and tagged , , , , by Dena Dyer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Dena Dyer

I'm a wife, mom, speaker, author of eight books, and contributor to many more. I love encouraging hurting, harried women to find hope and healing in the arms of Jesus...and take themselves less seriously. My latest book is "Love at First Fight: 52 Story-Based Meditations for Married Couples" (co-written with my husband, Carey) from Barbour Books. A few of my favorite things: date nights with my hilarious hubby, spending time with my two sons, and hanging out with girlfriends. I'm grateful for a loving heavenly Father, the blessings He so generously bestows, and His amazing grace. You can find out more about my writing/speaking/mentoring at http://www.denadyer.com.

4 thoughts on “The 15-Minute Writer: Tips for Creatives Who Parent

  1. Reblogged this on I'll Tell You When I'm Ready and commented:
    Dena, I love this. ” I used nap times to write instead of clean.” was my first rule. I set up a card table in the living room, told the little ones this was where I kept “my work.” and they always honored that! Time management… giving the children a place in my professional life, as in “Want to make a card for Daddy?” May I follow you? @LatelaMary

    • Mary, I love this story! Thanks for sharing. Creativity is key–and time management. I do think kids respect us when we respect our work. I teaches them that their own passions are worth following. (Of course, it goes without saying that we have to make sure they know they are loved and are a priority).

  2. I can sympathise with this completely, Mary, and your advice seems eminently sensible and practical. I wrote plays when my kids were small but only when they were in bed and asleep and during school holidays when Roy was around to take turns with looking after them.

    • I so admire anyone who juggles writing and parenthood. It’s not easy. Job well done!!! And thanks for taking time to read and comment. 🙂

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