Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Pod with Katie Wood Ruffin

Life as a Writer Mom
with K. D. Wood

The Peas asked me to talk a little bit about balancing my life as a writer alongside being a railroad wife and a mom of to two rambunctious boys. Specifically, what do I as a writer on a daily basis to achieve my version of Work/Life Balance? Is there something in particular I do to balance my life as a writer with my life
For me, every day as a writer and mom involves juggling lots of things. The husband, a home, and the tiny people we share it with. At any given moment, all my responsibilities can be flying through the air at me without so much as a heads up.

One of the main ways I balance my writing is sacrifice. Five nights a week, I’m awake pounding out those words while my family sleeps. My doctors hate this by the way. "You need at least eight hours of sleep every night," they preach. Whatever. Give up my love of writing for sleep? No way, sleep is over-rated. Plus, anyone with kids knows those days of sleeping in and Sunday afternoon naps are over until they reach driving age.
Another piece of my day involves lots of delegation. My older kid cleans up his stuff, his room, his bathroom and puts his laundry away. The five-year-old handles simple tasks like playing the matching game while putting the utensils away, putting his toys away or sorting laundry by colors. For a busy mom, this extra time can be invaluable. 

Here’s a little example of a typical day for the Ruffin’s:

6am: The kids get up and get ready for school. While they dress and eat breakfast, we go over tasks for the afternoon. Then, it’s off to school for them.

7-8am  This is my daily planning hour. I sort my morning messages (FB, Twitter, emails) and reply to the most crucial, tagging more involved ones for answering later. My writing shift materials are prepared for the afternoon review. Then, I usually throw a load of laundry in the washer and set the timer for when I get up from my nap.

8-11am: I nap because I’ve been writing while my family is asleep.

12-2pm:  During lunch, I review my messages again, return phone calls that came in while I slept and make replies to tagged messages. This is also when I do most of my domestic tasks (laundry, cleaning, cooking for the evening and the next day etc.). Another big time saver for me is cooking multiple meals. I never cook just one meal. When we have roast, I prepare two. Chili and soups are a double batch too. That way, I have one for now and one to freeze for later. Also, I chop everything the same day I buy them, then, freeze the ingredients in measured amounts for the intended meals. Dedicating a day to preparing meals that can be frozen saves lots of preparation time for a busy writer.
2-6pm: As I wait in the pickup line for my boys, I use all that quiet to prepare for my writing shift. Those last solid silent thirty minutes are all I’ll get before the boys go to bed. If I’m revising a manuscript then I’ll go over what I wrote the night before and make notes on the draft. I find that my writing goes much faster that way. If I’m working on a rough draft I’ll review my notes or the plot line to decide about the evening’s direction. While the boys are preoccupied with homework and chores, I’ll go through my messages again and make the necessary replies. On a good day I can even work in a trip to the gym before dinner. 

6:30-9:30pm: The hubs comes home from work and we veg out together for a few hours. I plug the Blackberry up in another room, turn off the iPad and computer, and spend a few hours with the three people I work so hard for everyday. 

10pm-2am: After the boys are tucked in, another writing shift starts. I sit down to my computer prepared, rested, and ready to propel the story swirling in my head forward.  After a few hours of bleeding all over the keyboard I’m off to bed until the day starts all over again. 

Reading this I wondered to myself, do I really balance all these things well? Considering that I meet my goals on a regular basis, my house is clean, my children are bringing home all A’s and B’s on their report cards and I’m happier than I’ve ever been, I have to say…yeah. I think I am achieving Work/Life Balance in my own way.   
Do I feel like a failure sometimes? Of course. More often than I’d like to admit, in fact. Do I want to throw my hands up when things get hairy? Sometimes. The better question is, do I ever give up? No, never

One of the important things for me is that I constantly look for ways to make my day run smoothly while achieving my goals. What works for me just works but will be different for you and every other writer you know. Work/Life Balance is so incredibly personal on each level. Most of all, for every person out there attempting to reach their goals, get up, dust yourself off and try again when life knocks you back a step, make your days work in the most efficient way for you. You’ll have your own version of balance. 

K. D. is a young adult paranormal romance writer and avid YA reader located in Hernando, MS. Mother of two and founder of the YA Day can learn more about her on her blog

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