My Writing Zone

Finding time for everything I want to do in life is hard. I’m a mother, a wife, an editor, a daughter. I have pets and a new home to care for. My littlest is two months old, and I’m just now bouncing back from his birth (which is amazing considering the trauma I overcame with my first). I have a toddler who keeps me on my toes. You might as well call him my “work-out routine” because I’d probably never leave the couch if it weren’t for him. I give myself 100% to all of my jobs and it’s exhausting, but I love it. So, today I thought I’d share what motivates me to write and edit since I was asked recently what helps me get “in the zone” to accomplish my writing goals.

Writing and editing are me. I have hobbies and things I enjoy doing other than reading but writing and editing make me feel like myself. This is so important after becoming a mother. So many parents lose themselves, their passions, sacrifice their dreams and jobs for their children, and after the hardship of recovering from birth the first time around I had to find something that was ultimately MINE. Writing and editing are mine.

When my toddler was around one-years-old, I decided I desperately needed to have something that reminded me of me, something that made me feel like myself again. So, I started beta reading, and loved it. I loved it so much I decided to start critiquing manuscripts. Then I learned about Camp Nano a little more and finished my own manuscript in a month. I felt on top of it all. My son was old enough to play alone for a while during my work hours–and I can set my own work hours which is awesome.

But things are more difficult with two. I don’t get to nap when baby naps because it’s a rare phenomenon when both babies are asleep at the same time. I have to stay up after everyone’s gone to bed if I want to get any of my own writing done, which I usually don’t do right now. I focus on getting editing done during the week. I set realistic goals (I divide the number of words in a document by the number of days I have ’til my deadline) and meet them. I add a few extra tasks on to this, like free first chapter reads and edits to bring in more clients or to help authors out who can’t afford an editor. And moreover, I’m still expected to take care of the house (which isn’t the priority right now).

So, what keeps me motivated and what keeps me in the writing zone? How can I do all of this and not be burnt out? I prioritize. Obviously, my kids take top priority. The little one sleeps off and on, so I take moments when he’s asleep to write things like this blog post. Writing this helps me wake up, gets my brain churning before I dive into reading or editing. My toddler spends the morning playing alone, watching cartoons, or playing learning games on his kindle, so I have a little time to think–sometimes. Sometimes, shit hits the fan. Sometimes no one sleeps, everyone is crying, whining and screaming. Sometimes the laundry has piled so high I feel like it will take years to complete. Sometimes writing takes a back seat, and that’s okay. I stay in the zone though. I’m never not thinking about my book, and the edits I must do for clients. And when I get the chance, I take notes on my phone, so I don’t forget the ideas I have.

What keeps me motivated to keep writing even when I can’t meet my goals is knowing writing and editing are mine. My computer is mine. I have a safe space with my writing buddies to brainstorm and chat–even if it’s not about writing. They keep me motivated by talking about their stories, talking about writing styles and rules, etc. Just talking about writing keeps me in the zone. I’m always itching to get back to my phone or computer even for just a moment because writing, #witlingwriter, and inkscript make me feel like me, and it makes me a happier person in life knowing I can still be appreciated for my talents and for being myself.

If you’re struggling to stay in the zone, remind yourself why you write. What are your long and short-term goals? How can you make them more reasonable, more realistic, so you can meet them? It may take longer than you hoped. You can’t always do it all and expect not to be burnt out. So, do what you can, even if it’s writing a few sentences a day during your lunch break. Be thinking about your work often, what excites you about it, what will excite readers. When you’re excited about your writing, you want to write. When you’re defeated, you procrastinate and feel like it’s not worth your time.

A few tips:

In your manuscript, find the last place that truly was a joy to write or excites you and start there. That might mean deleting everything you’ve written after that point. I know, scary. If you need to cut your paragraphs and save them on a separate sheet, do it. But I usually just toss it and start fresh. It turns out better the second time around.

Take some time away from your manuscript. Get a second pair of eyes on your draft. Pay for a manuscript critique. Brainstorm with other writers. People watch or read a book. Do something creative. Go for a walk. Read about writing.

How do you stay in the “Writing Zone?” Can you share some tips on how to get back in the groove of writing when you’re feeling defeated or feel yourself procrastinating? (And remember, not everyone can write every single day).

(It took me four hours to complete this blog post between babies. I probably have typos. This is my writing life.)