How to Balance a Busy Writing Schedule and a Busy Life

Tricia Goyer / Karen Ball

One of the things many writers struggle with is time management. I’ve heard so many writers cry out, frustrated that they just can’t find the focus or time to write like they want. I knew if there was one person who could share wisdom and tips on this topic, it was the author of today’s guest blog, Tricia Goyer. This woman is amazing! I’ve known her since her children were little, and it’s been a delight to watch her grow as a woman, a parent, and a best-selling author. I’m delighted she can share her time-tested wisdom with us today. You can find out more about her at www.triciagoyer.com.

 

How to Balance a Busy Writing Schedule and a Busy Life

by Tricia Goyer

I’m a wife, homeschooling mom to ten kids (yes 10!) and best-selling author. I’ve had 60+ books published, and I lead a Teen Mom support group in inner city Little Rock. The number one thing I’m asked by others is, “How do you do it all?”

If you were to see the piles on my desk and the piles of laundry you’d realize I don’t DO it all. Everything does get done, but not on the same day.

Those sixty something books have happened over sixteen years, and I didn’t birth all of our ten kids. I totally cheated and adopted some as teens. (Not that it makes parenting any easier!)

But there is some mindfulness to the madness. Over the years I’ve had to make choices. I don’t watch TV. I miss most movies. I don’t have any hobbies except reading. And I’ve cut back on my speaking schedule to be home more. I’ve also developed some habits to make my life work better. Here are some things that have worked for me, and maybe some things you might want to try.

Making the Most of Our Minutes

  1. I’ve created a rhythm to our day: Daily rhythms are a biggie for me. I have quiet time and write before anyone wakes up. We start homeschool around the same time every day. We have dinner around the table together, and nightly bedtime routines. Schedules give our children a sense of order. We all know what to expect in the day, and I make the most of the quiet moments I have in front of my computer, knowing that time is all I’ll probably get.
  2. I pick two to three important things to get done in each day. There are days I need to write 2,000 words. There are days I need to get caught up on laundry. These two things cannot happen on the same day. When I choose what things to focus on, I’m also choosing other things to ignore. This is important. There will never be enough time to do it all in one day. Ever. Making choices relieves the stress. I’m able to push nagging thoughts out of my mind, knowing I’ll get to those things all in time.
  3. I set aside times for fun and play. I give attention to my little ones when they first wake up. I try to do the same in the afternoons with their big sisters. Sometimes I color with my kids, and I play a board or card game with them nearly every day. When my kids know they’ll have dedicated time, they don’t have to fight for time (or act up to try to get it) throughout the day.
  4. I seek help. I’ve managed my workload and budget so I can have a woman come in four hours a week to clean. I have an assistant who helps with my blogs and other online help. I have a babysitter/nanny who takes kids to therapy appointments or watches kids a few hours in the afternoon so I can write.

I was not at this place ten years ago, but I’ve worked to find people who I can help financially and who can help me.

While you may not be at the place to hire someone, ask yourself if there is someone who you can trade with. For years I traded homeschool days with another mom so I’d have a free day. Also, when you see someone who is seemingly “doing it all,” know that person probably has help, too. No one can do it all and balance everything well. No one.

  1. I say NO. My kids aren’t in many activities outside the home. I pick a few things, like the ten mom support group, to volunteer in and I leave it at that. When I think about adding something I then consider what I have to give up. I used to be the worst at overcommitting, but I’ve learned to only say YES to the things I really want to do and that I have time and space for.
  2. I turn to God. God has the answers for my day. His Spirit guides me to what’s most important. God has good plans for me and my family. I’ve learned to take my eyes off the schedule, and put them on Him.

There are times I’ve pushed aside writing for a kid who needs one-on-one attention. There are other times when all the kids have played together happily and I’ve been able to sit and work. When I feel a nudge in my spirit, I pause to listen to what God is speaking to me. Even on days when I push writing to the side God shows me that He can redeem those moments.

Balancing a busy writing schedule and a large family isn’t easy, but it is possible. As I live out this writing life in front of my kids I’m also displaying what it means to work hard to serve God and people. My kids know I take my work and my service seriously. They also see how God shows up. Life in our era will always be busy … but the good news is we get to choose what to be busy about.

 

21 Responses to How to Balance a Busy Writing Schedule and a Busy Life

  1. Barbara February 1, 2017 at 5:34 am #

    Thank you for this encouragement!

  2. Janetta February 1, 2017 at 6:41 am #

    It’s only my hubby, me and our pooch, and life is busy. Most of the year we travel in an RV. This is where i write. It crazy, but I love it. Thank you for sharing your tips to help with using our time better. Blessing on you and your family.

  3. Jon Guenther February 1, 2017 at 6:43 am #

    “When I choose what things to focus on, I’m also choosing other things to ignore. This is important.”

    Completely agree. This is the hardest concept for me. You mean… I can’t do something else while writing chapter a day like I used to? No fair! 🙂

  4. Loretta Eidson February 1, 2017 at 7:21 am #

    Okay, now I’m inspired to evaluate my time and make a schedule. Thank you!

  5. Linda McLaughlin February 1, 2017 at 7:46 am #

    Excellent insights for all busy people and not just writers. Thanks!

  6. Rebekah Love Dorris February 1, 2017 at 8:37 am #

    As a homeschooling wife and mother of eight, this post was like good coffee.

    Lately I have really struggled with guilt about writing. You don’t know what an encouragement this was to me, both what you wrote and all you’ve written. 60+ books?! And if Karen Ball says you’re amazing, you must be.

    I recently wrote about my writing vs. mama guilt here: https://morethantheancients.com/2017/01/16/what-i-learned-from-superwomans-mother/
    The woman in the article, “Superwoman’s Mother,” told me how God orchestrated so many things to enable her to do what she did. She told me He would do the same for me, and I believe it. This article is proof. It’s just exactly what I’ve been needing. Thank you so much.

    And thank you, Karen, for asking her to write it 🙂

  7. Joey Rudder February 1, 2017 at 8:44 am #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I needed this today. I was JUST thinking how terrible I’ve been with time management over the years, and how I’ve finally started shifting things around in my “doing” and in my mind; keep writing a priority and stop feeling guilty that the dishes are in the sink. I know I need to make a few more changes today and listen to God’s leading. Thanks for the confirmation!

  8. Ann Shorey February 1, 2017 at 8:54 am #

    Thank you, Tricia. Your blog was inspiring, and gave support to some of my own decisions. Blessings to you and your family!

  9. Carol Ashby February 1, 2017 at 9:17 am #

    Remember how God said that every day was like a thousand years and every thousand years like a day or a watch in the night? (2 Peter 3:8, Psalm 90:4) He was describing general relativity.

    Here’s a proven fact of general relativity: the faster you move, the slower time passes. The high velocity of the GPS satellites make it essential to correct for time going slower for them than for us here on earth’s surface. There’s a gravity effect that works in the opposite direction. Our GPS’s would give results off by several miles if their time wasn’t corrected for relativistic effects.

    So next time your teenager complains about not having enough time in the day to do schoolwork, chores, and everything else, just tell them to move faster and time won’t pass as fast.

    • Rebekah Love Dorris February 1, 2017 at 9:42 am #

      Whoa. Mind blown. My kids’ science lesson for the day is going to be about general relativity, I just decided. I can’t wait!

      Are you a teacher, Carol? I just search for “time management general relativity” but only found science ramblings far over my head. You should write more about this! Put Einstein on the bottom shelf where everyone can access it! I’d love to read more about this.

      God bless!

      • Carol Ashby February 1, 2017 at 9:59 am #

        I was a TA in grad school, but I did research for my career.

        The really fun demo I do is showing how a couple of facts of molecular biology related to mirror images (like your hands) and understanding probability at the level of rolling dice can be used to prove to 1 part in (2 multiplied by itself 3 billion times) that the accidental formation of even one set of human chromosomes is impossible without someone controlling their assembly. A 5-minute mathematical proof of the necessity of the designer.

      • Carol Ashby February 1, 2017 at 10:05 am #

        You might find something presented at the right level if you search on GPS and relativity. There should be something that talks about how both the difference in gravity due to the distance from the center of the earth and the high speed make earth time and satellite time different.

  10. Cara Grandle February 1, 2017 at 9:35 am #

    This reminded me of all the goodness in Tricia Goyer’s book Balanced. Two phrases in that book have stuck in my heart and helped. (Paraphrased.)
    “Do what you can and let the rest go.”
    “Don’t wait for hour long segments of time. Books can be written in fifteen minute chunks. If you take the fifteen minutes over and over.”
    Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Amber Schamel February 1, 2017 at 9:43 am #

    Wonderful post, Tricia. Thank you for sharing these tips and insights.

  12. Cindy Fowell February 1, 2017 at 10:19 am #

    Thank you for a timely post. I am rearranging my schedule at work (church office) with new tasks coming my way and life in general. You have me thinking.

  13. Jeanne Takenaka February 1, 2017 at 10:44 am #

    Tricia, this post resonated with me. In a season with a traveling husband and a teen and pre-teen boy, life feels overwhelming at times. God gave me the word Intentional to focus on for this year. Your words here today show me some ways I can be more intentional in the areas God’s been showing me to work on.

    I love what you shared about picking two or three important things to work on in a day. I’m learning to be okay with not getting everything done, but I’m not there yet! Thanks for showing me that sometimes letting something not get done on a day is actually the better thing.

    Loved this post!

  14. Sheri Dean Parmelee February 1, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    Tricia, you are amazing. I thought home schooling one son, running a business, attending college, being active in my church, and running every day made me a super woman, but you truly are. Kudos!

  15. Karen Mace February 1, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks. For a great article – timely too!

  16. Cara Putman February 2, 2017 at 11:00 pm #

    So, so good, Friend. Love you!

  17. Heidi McCahan February 3, 2017 at 2:34 pm #

    Thank you for the encouragement, Tricia.

  18. Laura Bennet February 5, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

    Thanks so much for that post. It’s encouraging and relieving. I’ve often wondered how you do so much. I have a lot on my plate these days and I find the most important is keeping my eyes on Jesus and listening to the Holy Spirit lead me even when I think it doesn’t make sense. In the end, it always makes better sense.

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