Friday, May 11, 2007

RLH: Balancing Writing and Family

The following question came in for "Ask the Authors," but we thought it deserved a more lengthy reply. Here's another take on the subject.

Writer and Mother--How do you respond to two "equal" callings?

As both a Keeper at Home and a Writer I have honestly a nearly equal pull to both. Many "writing guides" I've looked at imply that if if writing isn't your first passion either nothing will got done, or you're not serious enough. As a Believer I know that that can't be true, so I'm curious how believers (especially those at home with their children at home) define "priority" and affirm the importance of both callings.

When I first began writing, I was a working mom of two pre-teens. For nine years -- until the month my ninth book was released -- I juggled an 8 to 5 job, my writing, and my family. It wasn't always easy but it was doable.

My first two books were written for fun and as time allowed. That means writing generally took the place of other leisure time activities such as watching television or reading. But after I sold and had deadlines to meet (deadlines I made certain were reasonable based upon my circumstances), I set a regular schedule for myself. It looked like this:

Monday through Thursday: Write from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Saturday: Write in the morning until kids were up

Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons, and Sundays were reserved for family time.

On weekdays, I came home from work and fixed dinner. After dinner, my daughters did the dishes and their homework while I went into my office to write. However, I had an Open Door policy. They were allowed to interrupt me any time they needed. I made sure they knew that they came first. I can recall some great mother-daughter discussions taking place in that room.

Sometimes, as my girls got older, their extracurricular activities (band, drama, cheerleading, etc.) meant I couldn't write on some evenings when I was chauffeuring or chaperoning. Flexibility is a must.

One thing to remember is this: If you write one page per day, you will have a 365 page manuscript at the end of one year. You may have to give up having the tidiest house in the subdivision or you may have to give up watching your favorite television program or you may have to get up an hour earlier in the morning or go to bed an hour later at night, but it is possible to be a good parent and be true to your calling to write as well.


Robin Lee Hatcher is the mother of two and grandmother of six. She began writing her first novel in 1981 and has seen more than 50 novels and novellas published since then. Whenever she considers the mistakes she's made in life, she looks at her daughters and realizes she must have done a number of things right, too. She will have four releases in 2007, including RETURN TO ME (June, Zondervan). Visit her web site ( ) for more information.


At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's very helpful, Robin. It's easy to feel like my one page isn't moving things forward much.

At 4:53 PM, Blogger Laurie said...

Thank you for being so specific about your schedule. Many writers say this balance can be achieved, but they rarely give the concrete facts. Also, it gives me one more reason to quit stalling and actually get going!


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