Being a Superhero Author ‘Mum’–Planner vs. Pantser


Okay, so we’re sure every writer out there wears many hats, but in the spirit of Mother’s Day we’re going to focus specifically on the ‘mums’ out there. We’re talking any writer that takes on the role of caregiver, worker, taxi, chef, cleaner, nurse, judge, jury and executioner.

 

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We both know these roles well.

So how to do it? How to fit it all in, and not feel guilty about time not spent on your novel or squishing those chubby little cheeks. (FYI as we both have one-year-olds, they can’t avoid the cheek-squishing just yet.)

In truth, we don’t fit it all. Not all of the time anyway. Like all of you we fail sometimes.

But let’s focus on the times we’re superstar-multitaskers, and hopefully some of these pointers will help you through your next rut.

Heather will come at it from the viewpoint of a planner, while Rebecca addresses the pantsers out there.

For the Pantsers:

  • Most days involve some kind of writing, be it on my laptop, a note book or the back of my sons homework sheet – that only happened once, he was not impressed. We pantsers do plan sometimes too. We plan to write some time today, and when the grocery list is half done, when you rest your head on the pillow, you think to yourself; ‘This counts right’. But as a pantser, you find you can write anywhere, and keeping a stack of sticky notes in every bag you own will help when inspiration strikes.
  •  I find I don’t need a designated space to write/edit, however I do feel the words flow more freely if I am comfortably propped up in bed, tv on and door closed. My bedroom has a nook complete with bookshelves filled with inspirational authors and collectibles within eyeshot and though my children will often interrupt with a plethora of random questions, being a pantser, I find that I can often fall back into step instantly where I left off after each interruption. If something draws me completely away from my writing, reading the last paragraph is usually enough to rekindle the flame. If that doesn’t work for you, try a page or even a chapter to get you back into the swing of things.
  • Social media: the monster that claws at your door or rather barges through it. I wish I could say that I use it to its full effectiveness, but sadly, I have not yet mastered them all. I think as a pantser we find it hard to schedule to do anything, not just write, so there will be days I tweet four or five times, and days not a single one. Facebook easily eats up an enormous amount of time if you let it, just going on to check your feed can result in an hour easily passing without you noticing a thing. But these platforms can be focused to help you write. Join Facebook groups that engage throughout the day in short bursts to encourage and push through the tough times. Use twitter to join writing sprints, try to hit a target time or word count along with fellow writers and if you think of other ways these platforms can help, use them to share with the rest of the class.

For the Planners:

  • I work best when I’m on a schedule. Most days, I get up at 5am, boot up my laptop while I make my coffee and then by the time I sit down in my office, my brain knows whats up. I’m in gear, and it means less time wasted on trying to remember where I was up to, or what I was working on.
  • I have a designated ‘writing space’. It works in a similar way as the time thing, in that my brain recognises ‘k, we’re here to write, woman’. It’s familiar and comfortable and it’s set up with everything within reach. My study is packed with books from my favourite writers. I have an enormous map on one wall, and a globe near another. I have my Disneyland memorabilia set up, and a nice, big comfy reading chair. It’s my space and it allows me to go into my worlds without the ‘real world’ invading. Having a familiar space–whether it’s the corner of a table, a chair outside, or under the covers when everyone’s asleep–will help get you in the zone.
  • I plan out my writing/editing so I know that when bub wakes, I can leave whichever scene I’m working on in a place I’m excited to come back to.
  • Finding time to engage on Social Media is a big one. Staying connected with the writing community is an invaluable resource, but can also be something that sucks up a bunch of my time. I try to limit myself to before and after an early morning session, during bub’s nap time (once I’ve got the cleaning done, of course *shifty eyes*), and after bub has gone to bed. I find that by splitting my surfing over these three timeframes, I’m able to keep fairly up-to-date with anything important.

Ultimately, planner or pantser, you will find challenges crop up all the time. The important thing to remember is time spent writing, or time spent with your family, is never time wasted. You should never feel guilty for prioritising one over the other as the most important thing is that you enjoy what you’re doing while you do it.

You juggle so many hats already, don’t forget to include superhero among them.

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Rebecca is an animal technician, writer, reader, painter, and cake maker. She’s a mother to her three babies and a wife to her big baby. She’s a proud pantser who you can find tweeting here

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Heather is a restaurant manager, writer, mother, and lover to her husband. She’s currently an incubator for baby number two and vessel for the many voices in her head. She’s a hard-core planner who you can find tweeting here

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