How Do You Balance Writing and Family? Authors Corner

If you’re a writer, and you have a family, you’ve probably noticed that you don’t have to time to, well, write. You’ve got homework and after-school activities and PTA and you have constant errands and chores, and somehow everyone has to get fed. Oh, and you might have a spouse or partner who needs attention. And maybe you even have a job.

So, what happens when all this is going on—and then the writer in you suddenly feels inspired to write a book? How are you going to do that?

Fran Veal is quite the talented juggler. Veal is author of the book, “Finding My Escape,” and she has gotten good at balancing being a mom and being a writer.

Fran offers this: “If you’re a mom who works full time and is trying to juggle the writing with the family responsibilities, you might have to get a little more creative with your time. You could get up an hour earlier to write, write during your lunch hour, or write while the rest of the family watches TV. The important thing to remember is the time with your children is fleeting. I’m sure I’ll never look back on my daughter’s childhood and say, ‘Gee, I wish I’d spent more time writing.”

We asked Fran about the successes and challenges she faces in being a writer. Why did you decide to write a book?

Fran: Well, I’ve always wanted to write, but when my daughter and nieces were pre-teens, the idea really formed to write something for them. When they were little, I made up stories to tell them, so I think that developed into the desire to write a full-fledged book for them. When I wrote the first one, they insisted on reading it as I wrote it. My oldest niece was actually quite demanding about it, “When are you going to finish the chapter, Aunt Fran?” It was really pretty funny. What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing your book?

Fran: Well, when I started writing the first book, my father was in the final stages of colon cancer, so I spent a lot of time writing “Finding My Escape” sitting beside a hospital bed. He died before I’d gotten very far into the book, so I poured my grief into writing that story. I finished the first draft in about a month. Now, I’d have to say my biggest challenges are time and the fear that my next book won’t measure up to the first two in the series. The book is a two-part series. Did you sense it would be that long when you got inspired to write it? If not, when did you realize it would be?

Fran: I always had the ending of the first book in mind when I started writing, but when I actually wrote the last page, I realized there was more to the story. The problem was, the second book just wouldn’t “gel” in my head for the longest time. I actually wrote about 30,000 words that I completely trashed because I felt I was regurgitating the first book. I sat down and decided what I really wanted to write and finished that book, “Finding My Way Back,” in about 2 months. Now I’m working on the third. How did your husband support you?

Fran: My husband supported me by giving me the time to write and understanding that sometimes inspiration just hits and you have to get the idea down on paper. According to Amazon, you were writing Romance pieces at 9 years old. Do you remember where got the inspiration for those?

Fran: Oh, those were too funny! A friend of mine drew these cute little cartoons, so I decided I’d try drawing some, too. The problem was – she could draw, but I couldn’t. My pictures were horrible – absolutely horrible, but the stories were kind of sweet. They were about a little rock band – sort of like The Archies – and two of the characters were sweet on each other. Then I wrote stories for a friend of mine in Junior High. We still keep in touch and she loves both my books. What advice do you have for writers who are struggling to find time to write and raise a family?

Fran: Well, first, you have to believe in yourself and your writing enough to make time for yourself. You also have to create margin in your day. When you have young children, take advantage of naptime.

It’s also okay to teach your children that Mommy has “work time.” I’ve worked from home since my daughter was small. When she was very little, I set up a little “desk” for her to work at right next to mine, so she could “work” with me with her coloring books, puzzles, etc. It worked great. She understood that there were times when Mommy worked and times when we would play. I tried to balance that out so she never felt neglected. What are your current projects?

Fran: Right now, I’m working on Finding My Way Home, the final (I think) book in the Finding My Escape Series. I have a story I’m working on for Chicken Soup for the Soul, and a non-fiction book on leadership. Add that to teaching my now sixteen year old to drive, and I have a pretty full schedule!

Fay Thompson of, in her article “Nine Tips for Writing Balancing Writing and Family,” offers some more amusing points of encouragement:

Don’t wait for the muse. The muse is all seeing. It knows what’s going on at your house. It won’t come within shouting distance when the baby has colic, your teenager has her first date, your son just got his driver’s license, dinner’s still in the freezer, and your husband is feeling romantic. Forget the muse.

If you don’t feel like writing, don’t write. Make no excuses. There will be days when you’ll be tempted to use family as an excuse for not writing. Some days, you’d rather clean commodes, take six rowdy boys to a soccer match or clip the dog’s toenails.

Don’t wait for the empty nest. Don’t wait until the kids are gone to write. Creativity, like muscles and minds, needs exercise and the fuel of self-expression. The cliché, “Use it or lose it!” is fitting here.

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