(Hint: Showering is not required)
My first novel RESTLESS IN L.A. was just published! With three kids, finishing it was a near impossibility but I did it! Between you and me, I must admit that there were many responsibilities, hygienic habits, and personal grooming activities that went by the wayside. But the novel got finished! Hooray! Here are ten easy tips to say YES to your book and NO to (nearly) everything else:
1. Ignore the mail, email, phone calls, and texts.
These can wait. Note: DO pay property taxes and bills. And, try not to forget to send absence excuses to school for your sick kids or you WILL get a truancy notice…don’t ask me how I know this.
2. Retire from all lunch-making duties.
My youngest is 11 so this should be self-explanatory. Precious minutes spent stuffing pretzels into Ziploc bags and making turkey sandwiches could be better used to up your word count.
3. Detach kid and attach laptop…to your hip.
Invest in a laptop if at all possible. Take it everywhere including, but not limited to: soccer practice, orthodontic appointments, singing lessons, Bar Mitzvah training, batting practice, tennis lessons, Kuk Sool Won (the Korean martial arts my kid is into), Lacrosse practice, Mathnasium, etc.
4. Stay in your robe/pajamas all day.
Why bother getting dressed when your book is calling? My afternoon carpooling doesn’t start until 3 pm at which time I pull off my flannel pajama pants and throw on my Athleta gray sweatpants. Viola, I’m dressed!
5. Forget basic hygiene.
A few days (possibly totaling weeks) of not showering for a couple thousand words is well worth it!
6. Temporarily block Pinterest.
You know who you are. I love it, too. But this is nonnegotiable.
7. Make your kid/husband/the teen next door walk your dog.
My dog noses my leg and wanders in and out of my office and makes little cries like he wants me to pay attention to him and how is that supposed to help me come up with a brilliant idea? He knows when I’m blocked and I’m pretty sure he’s sending me ESP messages to give up and take him for a walk. So just get someone else to do it!
8. Just say NO. To volunteering.
The school dance, the class field trip, the annual gala will go on without you. Unless it’s research for your book, you don’t need to do it, hence the word: volunteer. Your book isn’t going to write itself. Time = word count.
9. WRITING RETREAT!
Check into the Agoura Sheraton (they take Starwood points) or your sister’s she-shed or your childhood bedroom at your parent’s house in Encino or anywhere that is not your home. Bring your laptop, notebook, a turkey sandwich, and a bag of M&Ms, and you’ve got a writing retreat! It’s amazing how much you can get done in a 24-hour period with no family members around.
10. Become a RUTHLESS PRIORITIZER.
#1 is Family. #2 is Writing. Ask yourself this question: Is this task required to keep my children alive? If yes, stop writing. Do it. If no, back to work!