Friday, October 11, 2013

FINDING THE TIME AS A PARENT AND WRITER



I honestly believe that if you want something enough, you’ll make the time for it. It all comes down to choice.



My guest, Paul Anthony Shortt, is an Irish storyteller and urban fantasy author.
Paul's topic is one we hear from many writers todayfinding time to do all the things we love to do. Especially writing. It's not an easy juggling act for most of us and yet, somehow we have to find the time to release all the players and worlds in our head to printed page. But, I'll let Paul tell you about his struggle to find time. 


Like many authors, I’m a proud parent. Our twin girls were born on December 13th, last year, and we got a surprise a few months ago when we learned that we’re going to have another little one arriving in January.

As many people know, the twins were actually our second and third children. We lost our first, Conor, when he was three days old.

I believe having Conor prepared us for being parents to twins. His brief life showed us how loved we are by friends and family, and left us stronger for the decisions we were forced to make at the time. It also made us more determined than ever to be the best parents possible.

As you can imagine, twins are a drain on your time and energy. Their needs have to come first, and when you have a pregnant wife with mobility issues due to disability, you have to make some tough decisions when it comes to your free time.

I learned to prioritise very quickly. Writing became relegated to my lunch hour in work, or after the girls were asleep in the evenings, and it had to stop if one of them needed to be fed or changed. I became more selfish, I feel, with my time. Where before I would have been happy to lose an evening to lazing on the couch watching random television, I started only wanting to watch something if I was specifically interested in it. Or else, I’d leave my wife to channel-hop (she loves finding random things to watch) while I would sit on the couch with a netbook getting some extra work done.

Once any activity stopped being fulfilling, I set it aside and moved on to something else. Whether it was gaming, or a book, or even a particular meal, if I was no longer enjoying it, I stopped. It required developing a bit of a ruthless streak, but I now had too many responsibilities to give time to things that weren’t truly rewarding.

I decided early on that my two highest priorities had to be my children and my writing. The first was a given, but the second, while being a very personal choice and geared towards my own goals and success, would also help provide a better life for my children. Once I had the time set aside for both those things, I decided, then I could look at other activities. And, as it happens, I’ve managed to deal with the workload quite well. I’m seeing my friends regularly, and still gaming every week, even though I have taken a step back from running games while getting ready for Silent Oath to come out.

I often see people comment about not having enough time to write. I agree, making the time is hard. But it has to be done. I honestly believe that if you want something enough, you’ll make the time for it. It all comes down to choice. Maybe taking care of your children or putting in overtime at work leaves you exhausted and you don’t want to be near a computer in the evening. That’s okay. The thing is, you have to accept that its your choice to spend what free time you have the way you like. There’s nothing wrong with choosing to unwind instead of write, I do it myself, but we must always make our decisions in the knowledge that prioritising one thing means letting another fall to the side. We choose for ourselves what things have priority, and what things to let go of.

For some, that means letting go of writing, if only temporarily. For others, it means cutting back on work, or getting up an hour early at weekends to play with your kids, or giving up your lunch break to write. All choices in life come down to priorities like these. Make sure you pick the ones that are right for you, and you will lead a happy, fulfilling life, whatever you do.


  • HOW DO YOU FIND THE TIME TO DO THE THINGS YOU LOVE? 
  • IF YOU'RE A WRITER WHAT DO YOU DO TO CARVE OUT WRITING IN A BUSY WORLD?


BUY: AMAZON
SILENT OATH  (#2 in the Locked Within Trilogy)

Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the city's supernatural masters. But it's not enough. Because from the shadows of Nathan's former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that could undo everything he has fought for.


Nathan's only chance to uncover the memories of his previous existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena DeSantis. A woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he has loved.
Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future the city has. Excerpt (First Chapter Amazon)



                                                                                                                                                   


A child at heart who turned to writing and roleplaying games when there simply weren't enough action figures to play out the stories he wanted, Paul Anthony Shortt has been writing all his life. Growing up surrounded by music, film and theatre gave him a deep love of all forms of storytelling, each teaching him something new he could use. When not playing with the people in his head, he enjoys cooking and regular meet-ups with his gaming group.

Paul lives in Ireland with his wife Jen and their dogs, Pepper and Jasper. Their first child, Conor William Henry Shortt, was born on July 11th, 2011. He passed away three days later, but brought love and joy into their lives and those of their friends. The following year, Jen gave birth to twins, Amy and Erica, and is now expecting their fourth child.
Paul's first novel, Locked Within, was released on November 6th, 2012, by WiDo Publishing. Silent Oath is the second book in this urban fantasy trilogy.



22 comments:

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Thanks for having me, Sia!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post. So true especially when we work and have a family that we have to really look at how we spend the little time we have if we want to write.

L.G. Smith said...

It's definitely tough when your children are little. I used to write during my son's nap time. It took me five years to write a novel that way, but I did finish it eventually. He's a teenager now, so I have lots of time to myself to write. I'm even tackling a trilogy. :))

Best of luck with the novel and the writing!

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Natalie, that's exactly it. And no-one ever said it would be easy ;-)

L.G., now that is commitment! Well done, you!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't have kids and can't imagine trying to write around them on top of everything else. However, it can be done. If you really want to, you make the time.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

I was surprised at how readily I fell into my changed routine, to be honest. I think once you've made that choice, it becomes easier to deal with it.

Pearl said...

I write every day, generally in the early evening. If I don't, I don't feel right...

Pearl

Donna K. Weaver said...

Lovely post. Congrats on the new baby coming. Yeah. We have to MAKE the time for the things that are really important to US.

Yolanda Renee said...

When mine were little I wrote after they were in bed. Funny how that time is there when you really want to accomplish that goal. Marketing is much harder, because you never really know if what your doing is a waste of time or moving you forward. Every word written is a journey worth taking.

Great post, congrats!

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Pearl, I'm the same. I become really anxious and stressed if I don't write regularly.

Donna, thank you! I love being a dad so much. I can't get enough of my two little girls and I can't wait to see who this new addition is.

Yolanda, thanks :-) I think the hardest part is accepting when you realise that you can live without something that used to be very important to you. There are a lot of things I've had to let go or set aside, but what I gain for that makes it all worthwhile.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

We're all given the same twenty-four hours in a day, but some people hunker down and get everything done they want to do, while others waste more time whining about not having enough time than they do trying to accomplish anything. You're right; it's all about priorities and attitude. If we truly want to do something, we'll make the time.

Suzanne Furness said...

Life is full of choices and prioritising is all part of the process. You certainly have your hands full with twins and another little one on the way. I try and fit my writing in at the weekends but it can be hard and my two are 18/19. All the best and happy writing.

Mark Koopmans said...

Thanks for having Paul over! It's always nice to connect with another Irish lad :)

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

That's it exactly, Susan!

Thank you, Suzanne! Same to you.

Mark, nice to meet you :-)

Suze said...

I make a point of not overbooking--without apology!

Have a great weekend, Sia.

Nick Wilford said...

I think as most of us get older we prioritise what we really want to do and let other things fall by the wayside. It's the only way to get anything done!

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

That's often the tricky part, Suze, protecting our time when it involves saying no to others.

Nick, it really is.

Mason Canyon said...

Paul, I don't see how you and other writers do it. I'm so thankful, as a reader, that y'all do though. Wishing you much success.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Elise Fallson said...

Hi Sia! It's nice to meet Paul. I have two young children of my own so I definitely connected with this post. It's hard to make time, but somehow we do. Health issues have recently forced me to reprioritize and interestingly enough, I'm getting more writing done, not a lot more, but I'll take it. (: Wishing you much success, Paul.

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Thank *you*, Mason! :-)

Elise, any amount of writing is something to be proud of, especially when you have health issues on top of everything else.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia - great guest post, Paul ..

You certainly are taking the positives out of life, and creating ways of finding that balance - the lure of writing rings loud ... while family is of priority ..

Congratulations and very good luck to all 4 of you + 1 coming up in 2014, and then those 4 legged varieties .. adding to the mix and balancing the books too with walks etc ..

Have fun .. cheers Hilary

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

Thanks, Hilary! :-)