Boundaries for Writers and Their Families

“Do you need to leave the room to get writing done?” my wife asks, concerned. We’re currently sitting in a hotel room. Three of the kids are on their laptops at school meets. The baby is staring at my wife’s phone so she doesn’t disturb the others at school. I’m trying to get a little work done while everyone else is busy. My wife is concerned that I might be distracted.

Nah. I should be good. Everyone else is distracted right now, and I’m just going to quick type out a blog post. It requires concentration, but not the same level as creating worlds out of words.

So I open up the word processor to get to work. And then she sits down and starts talking at me.

None of it is bad, and all of it is stuff that we should really iron out before we have to leave the hotel for the day. But it’s also stuff that can wait a few minutes, and she was all good with me writing.

She just now leaned over and asked me to feel the cup her coffee is in. It’s made of recyclable paper.

And now I’m back to typing.

I love my wife so much. She’s an amazing woman. She supports my writing in amazing ways. She often serves as both a content editor and a line editor. Without her, my stories would be half as good. She has been a huge blessing to my life.

She can also be a bit of a distraction.

Now, I should say that this is rare for me. Usually when I’m writing, I set a time I’ll be done by, and my wife leaves me alone until that time. And then she makes sure I get off like I said I would!

I understand from my peers that this is common when it comes to writers. I’ve got a friend who dearly loves his wife, but she chatters whenever he writes because it looks like he’s not doing anything important. Those with children, particularly young children, often have to give the children more attention.

Excuse me. My youngest has decided to start unpacking the suitcase.

OK. I’m back.

What does all this mean?

It means that writers need to set clear boundaries with their families if they’re going to take their writing seriously. That said, their writing should never be more important than their families.

Now my thirteen-year-old is tackling me. I guess his school meet is done.

So, what are some practical ways to find a good balance between family and writing?

  • First, set your priorities and make sure you keep to them. Writing is important, but your family is more important. First things first!
  • Schedule your day. If you have a significant other, are you spending enough time with them? This will look different for each family depending where you are in your relationship and the pressures you face in this season of life. However, your significant other should never think you love your writing more than you love them.
  • Schedule your day. Are you spending time with your family? How much time and when you spend that time will vary per what your family looks like. If your kids are in their teens, the time commitment will look drastically different than if they’re two and three!
  • Schedule your day. Writing is just as important as your “day job,” so set a regular time to do the writing. Is it for an hour after the kids go to bed? Is it for an hour before you go to work? Whatever time you set, make sure you communicate it with your family. And in doing so, make sure you discuss that time with your significant other first! Don’t be a dictator with your time. At the same time, once that time is set, guard it.
  • Whatever time you set aside for writing, keep to it. If you set aside an hour, don’t take an hour and fifteen minutes. (I have some issues keeping this suggestion…)

So, a lot of these I hope are “duh” and it’s really more a question of how to do this with your own family. I get it. But communication and discussion is key, along with keeping your family as more important than your writing. For a season, you may have a deadline where you must write more. That’s fine! But make sure it’s a season and not a normal thing.

Writing is important. Family is more important.

The two-year-old just got into something. I need to go take care of her.

How do you find your writing-family balance?

Published by Jon

Jon lives in Kentucky with his wife and an insanity of children. (A group of children is called an insanity. Trust me.)

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