By Kristy Lahoda | @KristyLahoda
So, I left off in the last post encouraging you to find your dreams and to incorporate them into your reality. Now the question becomes, How is this done realistically when it’s not part of your nine-to-five job?
Despite only having forty pages of my novel written before my twins were born, I was proud of what I had accomplished. It seemed like a good start, but when I would tell people that I was writing a novel and how much I had written, very few people seemed impressed. I want to encourage you to not become disheartened by the lack of support by other people—often it will just serve to discourage and distract you. So how do you write with an extremely busy schedule, despite lack of understanding and encouragement—against the odds?
Be deliberate. After my twins were born, they were in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for six and a half weeks. I was on maternity leave with no obligations at home. It was the perfect time to write, but I was emotionally drained. A phrase familiar to NICU families is “two steps forward, one step back” and we lived that for a month and a half. During that time I reflected on my novel and how I was going to use my maternity leave to accomplish as much as possible while taking care of and enjoying the twins. I set a goal. I decided that once the babies were home, I would take advantage of my maternity leave and write because I might not ever have that much time off of work again. And I did. They came home at the beginning of October and while they slept 18 hours a day, I wrote. I had to be very conscientious about not getting distracted with other things that weren’t as important, but I was moving along quickly enough that my husband challenged me to get to 100 pages by New Year’s Day. I accepted his challenge and suddenly I had a third of my novel written.
Once I went back to work it took eleven months to finish my novel. The only time I had available to write was in the evening hours after the twins were in bed and during naptime on the weekends. However, I still thought about the novel while I wasn’t writing. When busy doing something that didn’t take a lot of concentration, I would use that time to plan scenes in my novel. I usually knew what I wanted to have happen in the next scene, so I would dwell upon certain questions: How could the characters accomplish what I needed them to do? What did I need to research for the next scene? And so on. This time was invaluable. I highly recommend planning while you are busy doing anything that doesn’t involve much of your mental faculties.
Writing involves sacrifice, as does any other worthwhile endeavor. I wrote not only because I wanted to accomplish an important goal in my life, but also with the hope that there would be a day when I could write professionally at least part-time. I still don’t know if that is going to happen, but I chose to sacrifice the time then for a potentially better future for my family. Was it worth it? I believe it was, but balance is the key. Even though my writing took away quality time from my husband, not to mention cuddle time with my twin babies, my husband was very supportive because he saw that spark in me that he hadn’t seen in a long time. He knew that while I was writing, I was fulfilling an innate desire. Without his encouragement and support, it would not have been worth it.
Decide whether your writing goals will be detrimental—especially to your family. Do the pros outweigh the cons of your sacrifice? If you have personal time available and you feel a drive to write, then spend some of your free time writing each week. It doesn’t have to be a lot. The important thing is to be consistent, but not militant. Keeping a word or page count per day, even if you don’t write every day, works for many writers. If you feel that you are not spending enough time with your family or doing other things, take the day off from writing and spend your day doing something else. Chances are, it will refresh you and it might give you the inspiration that you need to continue pursuing your dream.
Kristy Lahoda, Ph.D., is an explosives analyst contractor in a crime lab as well as a science content editor for a major educational publishing company. She writes Christian forensic suspense and discusses forensics on her blog called Explosive Faith. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
If you have a forensics question for Dr. Lahoda that you'd like to see answered on the QueryTracker Blog, send your question via Carolyn Kaufman using the email link under Contact Us in the right-hand column of the main QTB page.