A Freelancing Mom’s Game Plan

20150711_094550A lot of mothers have gone before me as stay-at-home moms. And a lot of professionals have gone before me as stay-at-home freelancers. I am thankful for all of them, their advice and their example. But I am also thankful for those who combined the two and lived to tell the tale.

As I type, my son grunts and squeaks his way through tummy time, lifting his head and then dropping it in frustration. He’ll build those muscles soon enough, and I get to stay home and watch it happen.

Motherhood is a challenge. Even as I write that, I have to start typing one handed as I scoop little Yoon up and distract him with a toy. Baby attention spans are short, and babies are still developing the skills necessary for, well, everything. With that in mind, freelancing in the midst of motherhood is a double challenge. But it’s one worth taking. In order to really get my work done, and done well, I have to develop new tactics:

  • Babysitters. Knowing who I can ask, and when they’re available. One lesson I’m still learning is to accept offers of free babysitting from friends and family without feeling guilty.
  • Naps. Using the baby’s naps for either focused work or genuine rest. Sometimes I’ve got to get a nap of my own in order to function.
  • Flexibility. Using those 10 and 15 minute windows instead of waiting for a whole hour. As Maria from The Sound of Music so sweetly says, “When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” (Thank you Julie Andrews!)
  • Grace. Forgiving myself for being tired and less productive than I’d like. It’s a work in progress, and I’ve got to remember how much I’ve already progressed over the last 3 months.

It’ll take time to get used to everything, especially since children develop at an amazing rate during their first year. So, fellow freelancers and fellow mothers, how do you make it work? 

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Exciting New Directions

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Rosie always encourages me to keep pressing onward. She’s pretty awesome like that.

About this time last year, I was prepping lesson plans and reviewing notes. But as this school year begins, I’m staying home. My writing projects have doubled. And alongside the ones that I listed in my last post, I’ll also be working on the second draft of my novel. It’s so exciting to be able to do this full time. 

With all of these projects, I have less time for blogging. When I started in 2010, my goal was to foster creativity, help fellow writers, and practice the craft. But my creative energy has many outlets. I write weekly for StoryForge Productions and I love the community there, because I can regularly help fellow creatives with articles like “Micro Pacing: How to Time your Dialogue.” The number of large, long-term projects that I’m working with means that I’m practicing the craft daily. Now that I list everything out like this, it seems that the blog is obsolete. But really?

Where does that leave the blog?

The blog and I have had 4 good years, and I’m not going to ditch it just because I’m entering a new stage in my career. It needs a new direction, a more casual and personal angle. I am going to spend lest time on my posts, but that won’t make them less meaningful. I still want to partner with fellow writers wherever I go and be a helpful resource. Thank you for hanging with me thus far! I hope to enrich the writing community as I share my journey with you. 

Just reinventing my life as I know it. Don’t mind me.

So it’s time to write a blog post and I’m stumped. I’m in the middle of buying a house with my husband, and even though that doesn’t take that much of my time away from my personal writing, it sure takes up a lot of mental and emotional energy.

We discuss over and over how to finish certain paperwork, how we’re going to move, and what construction projects we’ll start first. I browse magazines for potential paint colors. He searches craigslist for a refrigerator. Everyone around me gets the low down on what’s up, whether or not they actually ask for it.

In the meantime, I still get up at 5:30 every morning and try to start my days as though everything is normal. As a freelance writer who has few external time restraints, discipline has become quite difficult. People ask me for advice on how freelancers should budget time and create schedules, and I can give them a lot of helpful tips and access which will work best for them depending on their needs, but for myself? Staying focused is hard.

Today I’m reminding myself of the advice that I give to others: when your usual habits don’t fit your phase of life anymore, get ready to mix things up. Don’t expect old schedules to work in new environments. You’ve got to reinvent yourself. Things would be a lot easier if we lived in a cookie-cutter world, where the circle always has a circle space to fit into, but it’s more complex–and much more fantastic–than that. Since I’m preparing myself for a move, I can’t focus as much at home. I’ve got to get out of the house more than before. It’s not bad per say, it’s just an adjustment that I need to make for the next few weeks.

So, chat time. How’s life? Any big changes going on?

Friday Reflections: Challenge Yourself to be the Best

DSC00489After spring break with the hubby, it’s been a little difficult getting back into the rhythm of life. And if you’re struggling with time or motivation, these are the perfect articles for you:

When You Should (and Shouldn’t) Emulate Famous Creative Routines” – Whitson Gordon writes from LifeHacker, reminding us of the pros and cons of those famous routines that we–or may be just I?–obsess over. It’s a comfort to remember that I don’t need to copy some secret formula for success from other creatives; I can cultivate my own habits and schedules.

So you want to be a writer…” – From the Guardian, Philip Hensher, Jeanette Winterson, Rachel Cusk, Michael Cunningham, etc. share their teaching process and their advice about creative writing. They set high standards and accept no excuses. The tone of each challenge makes me want to learn, grow, and never stop pushing toward excellence.

This article is long, and So. Damn. Perfect. I’m not even going to bother finding a third. Dive in and enjoy!

Discipline: So Essential, yet So Elusive

Tonight, I had a revelation.

It’s same revelation I have every once in a while, and it goes like this: I should schedule my writing time so that I move forward at a respectable pace and build discipline. 

Does it ever happen? If I’m honest with myself—rarely. 

I think I’ll try it out this week though. I’ll write one hour per day, from Monday through Friday, and update you at the end. I’m sure I’ll drink twice as much tea as usual. Maybe some iced milk tea. Mmmmm, yum. 

Can you think of any personal challenges that you need face? How do you build discipline?