This is a guest post by Iona Caldwell, druid, mother, author, and wife, who has written the British Occult Fiction, Beneath London’s Fog.
How I Wrote A Novella in a Month as a Stay At Home Mom
“Mom!!” How many times have you heard this when you try to sit down to write? Isn’t it funny how you ask them if they need anything and they promise up and down they’re good? It happens again: the fighting, fussing and questions wondering why you have to work since they’re out for the summer.
Worry not, parents, this is not a unique thing.
Let’s face it, we love our kids but it’s hard to sit down and write when you have to play referee. I’ve heard stories of parents who had to wait to write their books until their kids grew and left the house.
I have a six and seven-year-old and believe me, writing one novella was hard enough. Trying to write a second book feels next to impossible at times! Yet, somehow, I’ve not only managed to finish Beneath London’s Fog but have also drawn close to completing Hell’s Warden.
You can do this! Let me offer the three things I did to make this dream possible.
I. Choose a Writing Time and Make it Sacred
I’m going to confess, with a demanding job, I don’t always get to write every single day. At least, not at first, and after learning a valuable piece of advice from a dear friend. My publisher told me how she managed to complete two books with two kids and the company:
Choose a writing time and make it sacred.
At first, I didn’t know what she meant. I had to do some research and came across the very advice she told me from another author.
We have to choose a time to write and make it sacred. As a night writer and wee-hours-of-the-morning creative, this makes this challenge easy. Everyone is asleep and settled which allows me the time to work on Hell’s Warden.
However, not all of us have this luxury. We have day jobs, so how can you find this “sacred time?”
Well, look at your day.
How much of it is spent binging Netflix, mindlessly scrolling through social media or my favorite, watching shows you’ve seen a million times? You’d be amazed where you can find that sacred time.
You can organize it any way you want. I usually go by hour and try to get at least that hour.
If you have kids and find writing during the day easier, here’s a not-so-secret secret. You can let them watch television or play video games, parents. It’s okay.
Whatever you can do to make your writing time sacred, do it. Not only for your novel but for yourself.
Pro Tip: Consider implementing a reward system. Give yourself a reason to find your sacred writing time. For example, say you finish 1,000 words a day then you can do an hour of something else. Finish 5,000 words by the end of the week and you can play a video game for the weekend. Whatever motivates you, use it as a reward to yourself. It works for my kids. Why not for me, too?
II. Embrace the “D” word: Deadline
This is the second piece of advice my publisher gave me. Set a deadline for when you want to have your rough draft completed.
You would be amazed at how much of an impact this had on me. Setting a deadline helped me overcome procrastination and power through the heinous “writer’s block” (more on this later). I finished Beneath London’s Fog within a month because of this.
Now, let’s be real. A month is demanding to finish even a novella for some. I actually gave myself three months to finish Beneath London’s Fog but found I fell deeply in love with the story so I wanted to finish sooner.
Procrastination is going to happen, there’s no getting around it. Life often has different plans with kiddos getting sick, doctor’s appointments, overtime, and household chores.
The point is, set your deadline so it’s realistic for you. Don’t try to do what I’ve done or any other author has done if it puts too much stress on you.
Writing should always be something relaxing, not stressful (at least in a bad way).
Going back, you may ask about writer’s block. There’s been such controversy around this little debacle with some stating it doesn’t exist to others wondering why it’s happening to them if it doesn’t.
I’ve heard it put so well by my publisher:
I don’t prefer to think of it as writer’s block but rather the draining of your ‘creative well.’
This hit me hard. I hadn’t thought of it this way. When I switched my mindset to think of it as a draining of my creative well, I didn’t feel so guilty for feeling it. I chose to do other things that inspired me. FYI, now is a good time to binge Netflix, catch up on your TBR list, listening to music, going for a walk, etc. Do something that inspires you and gives you a sense of being recharged.
Once you feel recovered, come back and start over again.
III. Take Time for Self-Care
I know what you’re thinking (okay, probably not). Why would I end this talk with preaching about self-care?
As a druid, a mother, an author, and a wife, I’ve learned the value of telling myself it’s okay to take time to shoot people in Borderlands 2 with my husband (yes, I’m also a gamer).
Fact: Writing is stressful. Sometimes we just need a break from it and anything revolving around it.
This is the beauty of other hobbies. I like to garden, bake, listen to music and dance around in my front yard. Set aside a day (or two if you need it) to do something that doesn’t involve your novel.
Authors have this thought pattern where they ride the proverbial struggle-bus to be the next big thing to the point it can become a hassle. Writing becomes a chore. Why would you do that to your book baby? Didn’t you write it for the sheer joy of holding it in your hands?
Iona Caldwell in her own words
My name is Iona Caldwell. I’m the author of the British Occult Fiction, Beneath London’s Fog, set to be published by FyreSyde Publishing in October 2019. When I’m not busy weaving worlds of the arcane and dark, I’m spending time out in nature. I love books. My biggest inspirations are H.P Lovecraft, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Edgar Allen Poe. I blog about many things but mostly everything bookish.
All of my novels are stand-alone novellas, each with a cast of people I hope my readers will come to love as much as I have. I do accept reviews but they’re very selective and I urge you to check my review policy first.
Want to know more? Find me on social media:
Thank you, Samuel!