Amanda’s Randoms: The Balancing Act

Balancing home, kids, a dog, and writing is a tough one for me—I’d like to think I’m getting better at it, but since I’ll be finishing a book during summer vacation for the second year in a row, there are still a few kinks to work out.

1) One thing I’ve done to free up more time is cut down on the Internet. When I first joined Live Journal in 2005, I got sucked up in the cyber-camaraderie of writers all working toward the same goal—landing an agent and that elusive publishing contract. We shared our triumphs and defeats—cheered each other on, and then my friends list grew. I could easily spend a couple of hours just reading posts and then there’s Verla Kay’s message board to visit, the daily comics to read, People magazine and TV Guide—all available online! Lunchtime would come and go and I wouldn’t have even opened my work-in-progress.

When I had about two hundred pages to write in three months, I knew it was time to disconnect. I missed my cyber friends and finding out what Britney Spears was up to, but I was truly amazed at how much writing I got done without the Internet to distract me. While I do surf the Internet now and again, I make my writing the priority.

How is Britney doing, by the way?

2) I forget I have a vacuum. OK, I do have one and I do use it, but I won’t be getting any Good Housekeeping awards. I can’t be Martha Stewart and write, but my goal is to keep the dishes washed, have food in the fridge, and make sure everyone has clean underwear in the morning. I will admit that after I handed in my book last fall, I had to reacquaint myself with the vacuum and spent a good week getting the house straightened and cleaned—but no one was without underwear! (I also enjoy telling my husband that other writers have messy houses, too—it’s just part of the business.)

3) I invested in a laptop. Despite my rapidly approaching deadline last summer, my kids actually complained I was “hogging the computer.” “Mommy is working” didn’t make much of an impression on my bored children. Neither did “When mommy is a famous author, she’ll invite you to her beach house, but if the book doesn’t get finished, there will be no beach house!”  (They’ve heard enough about the business to know the likelihood of Mommy getting a beach house from writing was slim to none. I think my son even went so far as to say “Yeah right, Mom! You’re not J. K. Rowling.”) So we finally got a laptop and that has made a huge difference; not only in the amount of time I can work, but also the amount of whining I have to endure.

4) I got real about time management.
I used to give myself all sorts of deadlines—ones that involved working during the weekends. Well, after beating myself up for not meeting those deadlines, I got real and admitted weekend writing was just not happening. Weekends were for spending time with the family and sometimes even vacuuming.

5) Newsflash: I’m not perfect. I still have to figure out the whole summer vacation thing. Last summer was a bit hellish with the book to finish, the aforementioned whiny kids and a new puppy brought home on July 1st. Fast forward a year and I’m doing it again. The laptop will help, the kids are more mature, Griffin is a year old and sleeps most of the day, but I can’t help but feel guilty my kids are going to be looking at me banging away at the key board instead of going to the beach or visiting relatives. Devoured is due September 30th, and my goal for achieving a balance between my writing and my family will be put to the test again. One thing is for sure—if I sell another book, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure it’s due before summer vacation starts next year!

~A.M.

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