Archive for March 20th, 2013

March 20, 2013

Merging my writing time with the needs of a growing family

A random photo from my daughter's photo blog

A random photo from my daughters’ photo blog

Last Saturday my teenage daughters and I had our first-ever, all-sit-down-together Creative Project Planning Meeting.

I’ve mentioned before that one of my daughters likes to write. We sometimes talk about our books, daydream together about what they’ll turn out like, have fun laughing at ourselves and generally enjoy the process together.

Saturday’s meeting was something different. As part of our claiming day, it allowed us all to get an inside picture of the progress we’re making and the challenges we face as we pursue the goals we set for ourselves.

We took turns, starting with the youngest. We talked about all the different projects she has in the works, and I was surprised to discover she’s planned almost as many books as I have. She’s got a lofty goal of getting one story completed by the end of the school year.

While my other daughter likes to write, she’s much more interested in visual arts. She’s got a talent for manga and other drawing styles, but her real gift and interests are all wrapped up in photography right now. She has her own photo blog, which she started as a school project, and she’s involved in the online photography club for her high school. I like her work so well that I’ve asked her to take lots of stock photos I can use when I commission book covers (The Night Ones Legacy will be getting a new book cover soon, by the way). She’s planned some photo shoots and has some really great ideas.

From a time management perspective, this type of meeting was valuable in several ways:

  1. I realized that, tempting as it is, I can’t write all the time. My girls need me to come out of my office and encourage them in their own projects. This means I’ll be doing a little more work in the living room while they finish school projects. My productivity might suffer a little, but their happiness and their successes feel like personal successes to me. I can always come back to ambitious writing projects later. They’re only going to be here in my home for a short time, and I need to make the most of it while I can.
  2. The planning meeting helped us schedule around each other–I knew, for example, that I couldn’t ask one daughter to babysit my toddler son on one particular day. Rather than asking her and making her cranky, I made arrangements with the other daughter to babysit while I conducted a telephone interview.
  3. It’s also allowed me to see that I need to have a backup babysitter outside the home for times when neither daughter is available. I’ve known they were growing into young adults, but it really hit home during that meeting. They have their own distinct interests, which is beginning to translate into personal time tables that deserve courtesy and respect. I can ask them to help, I can even expect it at times, but I should never demand it. With my girls, polite requests seem to result in more help–and definitely more pleasant help–than a strict demand ever would.
  4. Following that meeting, I also knew what kind of help my daughters were looking for. That knowledge was freeing–I realized how easy it would be to squeeze a few minutes in with them and their projects at least a few times a week. It’s been four days since that meeting, but I can see progress already. Overall, it’s been a great week so far–productive and happy for us all. 

We had so much fun we decided to try it again this coming Saturday. I’m secretly hoping it will become a tradition for us.

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