By Leah Dobrinska
The single most common question I get asked as a young(ish!) stay-at-home mom of five kids (by day!) and author (by night!) is “how do you find time to write?”
For me, this is like someone asking, “how do you find time to eat?” or “how do you find time to sleep?”
Writing is such a crucial facet of my identity and it brings me so much joy that to not do it feels like it would be a great loss to who I am as a person. I often tell people I feel most like myself when I’m writing.
But I’ve realized this isn’t exactly what folks really want to know when they ask me this question. They want practical, logistical answers explaining how I find the time to write. Or more accurately, I should say, how I make the time to write, given the other demands on my time. So, I’ve started compiling a list of tips for fellow creatives. I thought I’d share it here.
These are things that work for me as a writer who, from the outside looking in, doesn’t have a ton of spare time to devote to my craft. Maybe these ideas will help you make some time to do the thing that fills your cup, brings you joy, and allows you to feel most like yourself.
That’s about it. Nothing fancy. Nothing ground-breaking. But this method works for me. As someone who is not a full-time author but instead writes within the margins of her day, these are my tips for other busy creatives.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you find time to write? Do we use any of the same strategies? Share your best creative tips in the comments below. Write on!
Leah Dobrinska is the author of the Larkspur Library Mysteries, a cozy mystery series set in the Wisconsin Northwoods; the Mapleton novels, a series of award-winning standalone small town romances; and the Fall In Love closed-door romcoms. She earned her degree in English Literature from UW-Madison where she was awarded the Dean’s Prize and served as a Writing Fellow. She has since worked as a freelance writer, editor, and content marketer. As a kid, she hoped to grow up to be either Nancy Drew or Elizabeth Bennet. Now, she fulfills that dream by writing mysteries and love stories.
A sucker for a good sentence, a happy ending, and the smell of books—both old and new—Leah lives out her very own happily ever after in a small Wisconsin town with her husband and their gaggle of kids. When she's not writing, handing out snacks, or visiting the local library, Leah enjoys reading and running. Find out more about Leah, join her newsletter community, and connect with her through her website, leahdobrinska.com.
We've all read hundreds of times of the importance of exercise, especially as we grow older. Who isn't familiar with the expression "sitting is the new smoking?" I won't go into the nitty gritty details of why sitting is so bad for us, except to mention it has been implicated in many conditions, from heart disease to nerve damage. And while our society is more sedentary these days, I think those of us who are writers have to pay special attention to the matter.
I don't love to exercise and won't initiate an exercise session on my own, which is why I take aerobic and yoga classes, either in person or via Zoom, three to five times a week. And I go for a walk occasionally. Luckily, there are many forms of exercise available to us, so we can choose those we really like. There's swimming, Pilates, dancing, skating, bike riding, various sports and working out in a gym to mention a few.
But the benefits of working out and staying in shape are significantly lost if we sit in front of a computer for hours at a time. It's essential that we get up and move every twenty minutes or so.
Just get movin'.
Get a drink of water in the kitchen. (And bypass the chocolate)
Walk around your office for a few minutes.
Do a few stretching exercises.
Having a pet helps keep us moving. I remember how my cat Sammy used to make his special sound, telling me he wanted a few treats or some attention. But now that Sammy's gone, I need to remember to get up and move on my own.
For those of us who get so involved in the creative process and forget to come up for air, you can set your alarm to remind you to get up and stretch. Or move. Sometimes moving around helps inspire new story ideas. Some of my plot problems are solved as I walk around my community.
When I sit too long, rising to my feet can be painful. There's no question that I feel better after exercising and moving about. If only I didn't have to do it so often! But that's the way the cookie crumbles, as they used to say. Moving and exercising are as essential to our well-being as eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep.
A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense and novels for kids. Her books have received many accolades. As Allison Brook she writes the Haunted Library series. Death Overdue, the first in the series, was an Agatha nominee for Best Contemporary Novel in 2018. Out of Circulation, the eighth book in the series, will be published in August, 2024. Other mysteries include the Golden Age of Mystery Book Club series and the Twin Lakes series.
Her juvenile novel, And Don't Bring Jeremy was a nominee for six state awards. Rufus and Magic Run Amok was an International Reading Association-Children's Book Council Children's Choice and has recently come out in a new edition as the first in a series of four books. Rufus and the Witch's Drudge, the second in the series, will be published in 2024.
Marilyn lives on Long Island, where many of her books take place. She loves traveling, reading, doing crossword puzzles and Sudoku, chatting on FaceTime with her grandkids and playing with her kittens, Romeo and Juliet.
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