Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Family Time vs. Writing

Around 9 p.m. last night, I finally had time to open my laptop and get to work editing the novel. Don't ask me why it took me so long - I'm still trying to figure out where my time went last evening. Hubby decided to play a game of UNO with the kids and asked me if I wanted to play.

"No," I said, "I've got to work on this."

"Aw, take a break," he replied.

"But I just started!"

And here is where the guilt set in. Hubby did not mean to make me feel guilty, but as I watched the game from the corner of my eye (I was still sitting at the table with them, working) I thought, "Family or writing?"

It's a classic question of all writers. Sacrificing time with the family is inevitable. But since my family is usually so scattered - hubby works odd hours, my stepson is a teenager (enough said!) and it's rare that we're all in the house at the same time - I decided that I would sacrifice the writing to play a few rounds of UNO. Did I regret it? No. My kids are only going to be kids for so long and games of UNO gathered around the dining room table should be precious moments spent together.

Does that mean I'm not dedicated enough to my writing? Absolutely not. There has to be a balance. I plan to enjoy time with my kids. Lord willing, I will have enough time to work on my writing when they're off to college. But I won't neglect it now - I just have to squeeze time out wherever and whenever I can without sacrificing family time.


  1. That's one of the benefits of being single with no dependents - I don't have to make that choice, or try to juggle things to ensure both get the time they deserve. I swear I don't know how people with kids manage to find the time between everything they seem to have on the go.

  2. I'm with Kelly - I don't know how people with kids do it. As it is, I do choose to spend time with Sean or other members of the family when I could be writing. In the end, family is still paramount. OTOH, they're very supportive, so when I do say "I need to write.", they're totally ok with it.

  3. It never ends! My daughter is 28 and has moved out, but she often comes over. I always drop whatever I'm working on to spend time with her. And I often sit and watch TV with Dh just to spend some time with him. It's a fine line we walk, between family and writing, huh? But it makes us well-rounded people, imo.

  4. You know, just the other night I was sitting around playing Uno with the cats and thought the same thing. *gg* No, we single people do have it easier, but there's still friends that we'd like to keep in touch with. I don't know how the author/moms do it - but they seem to. Jill often spends time with her girls. BTW, I've begged her to post about writing vs. motherhood, but she's ignoring me. *gg*

  5. Gotta go spank a cat now. ;)

  6. Yes, there has to be a balance, and nothing can beat fun with family.

    But you also have to set ground rules and write AWAY from the fray -- they won't stop interrupting you if you're sitting there with the laptop interacting with them in the room while you're "writing". YOu need to be WRITING.

    In last night's case, it was fine, a perfectly wonderful choice, but the day will come when it isn't fine, and you have to set aside specific, UNINTERRUPTED work time a few hours a week that's just yours. And your family has to respect and support that.

    If you expect to be a full-time writer and not work a day job, you have to treat it as another job. Right now, it's your second job. But it needs as much respect and attention as your first job.

    And you DO need to balance family time into it.

    But if you get in the habit early of allowing interruptions, it will be worse down the line when you're on serious deadlines.

  7. I try to get as much done when the kids are at school as possible, but there are definitely times when they're yelling "GAME!" and I'm in the zone. It can be frustrating, but you're right: they're only little once! (Thank god almighty! LOL!)

    Oh, and there's a great new comic by Debbie Ohi (Inky Girl) that you'll love. Click HERE.

  8. Therese, that was PRICELESS! I may have to print that out and put it in my office. :-)

    Devon - as always, wonderful advice. Thank you.

    Bailey - My cat caught a mouse last night and wanted to play with it on MY CARPET. She deserved a spanking!

    Kelly - Thankfully, my kids aren't involved in any extracurricular activities right now so that doesn't break into my writing time, but it will one day soon!

    Tess - I also have problems with wanting to spend time with hubby. We don't have a lot of time together with his crazy work hours. It's so hard to juggle things sometimes.

    Betty - Isn't it great for your daughter to come home and you can kick back and watch a movie together? How fun!

  9. I know exactly what you mean. When I worked full time, my writing time was from 9-midnight, after the kids went to bed. Which meant there wasn't much time for anything else.

    You need to find a balance, but your family needs to take priority.

  10. I hear guilt!! It is really hard. Balance is important--but I think you also need to say 'writing is important to me' sometimes. People have to understand it isn't the last thing on the list. Even little people--and those we sleep with :)

  11. Nice to see someone else struggling to keep it balanced, Melissa.

    You've made me want to break out our old UNO game tonight. (We're getting real sick and tired of Scrabble in the Kennedy household)...

  12. Sounds like a great way to spend an evening :)

  13. I spy another Therese! (Do people always mispronounce YOUR name?)

    Melissa, I so agree with your choice to play UNO. I'm usually at my desk when my boys get home each day, and no matter what I'm engrossed in, I set it aside and give each kid my full attention.

    All I can see is how, with my oldest, I have only 19 months before he's off to college.

    The work will always be here waiting for my attention. The kids won't.

  14. I try to balance things, too!

    DH is the best at guilting me. Especially if a hockey game is on. He loves it when we watch together, but dang it! There's a hockey game nearly every night it seems.

    Balance is good!

  15. Good for you Melissa. Family every time. Believe me, children grow-up so quickly and once they hit their teens they won't even want to play family games.

    My two (nearly 18 and nearly 15) always groan when I get the Uno cards out (or other game), but I'm still just about hanging on... another year or two and I won't have them here to play games with...

    It doesn't mean you're not dedicated to your writing - it shows that you're secure and that you know writing will always be a part of you.

    Sue :-)

  16. To Therese Fowler: YES, they do mispronounce it. More often than not, I just wave at them and say, "Just call me Teri." (Getting people to spell the nickname right is another story. I think my mother had it in for me -LOL!) :)

    I'm glad you liked the comic, Melissa!


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