I am super excited for all you busy parents out there, who have a dream, to read this blog post from my very good friend and writing critique group member, Camille Faye.
Listen guys, everyone for whom I have bought her Voodoo Butterfly series OR told them about it OR lent my books to absolutely loves these books and winds up buying the next. So…book three is out April 24! Please read her words of wisdom below for all busy parents and grandparents, and then check out her books. If you are new to Camille, start with book one–link above. If you have read books 1 and 2, then 3 comes out Wednesday! Info at the bottom of the post.
All right…here you go…take it away, Camille!
Keepin’ It Real: How to Balance Family Life and Creative Work By: Author Camille Faye
Since 2009, I have been a stay-at-home mom. During this hiatus from “the real world”–but, c’mon, what’s more “real” than poopy diapers, spit up, and sleep deprivation?–I decided my adult brain would need a project just for sanity’s sake.
Before staying home, I taught university writing classes, and I had always wanted to publish a novel, so I decided that was going to be my project. I was going to become a real writer! It sounds so glamorous, doesn’t it?
And then reality hit…
When I embarked on this mission, my son was 18 months old, and it was IMPOSSIBLE to do any writing during the day. I tried nap time, but there were a zillion things to do around the house. Okay, the truth is, I needed a nap, too.
Despite the fact that I couldn’t write during normal business hours, I committed to my art 15 minutes per weekday and stuck to it. Most days, I could do an hour, but some days I didn’t want to sit down and write. At all. You know what I did? I made myself sit down for 15 minutes, write, then I shut off that computer because, dangit, I made a promise to myself that I would commit this stage of my life to raising my kids and my writing career. Dedication is a HUGE part of completing your creative endeavors. Even if it’s just for a small amount of time each day, it can add up to big results. For me, I had a completed draft of my first book, Voodoo Butterfly, in one year with just those tiny, little 15 minutes a day.
Flash forward ten years and my life has massively changed. Again. I still write five days a week, but I have no more preschoolers in the house. During September and October of this new lifestyle, I worked diligently while the kids were at school. This meant 4-5 hours of writing and 2-3 hours of marketing. So I went from fighting for 15 minutes a day to having seven full hours a day. Sounds like heaven, right?
Wrong. Within those two months, I became…Totally. Burnt. Out.
My neck hurt because I wasn’t taking computer breaks. And, even worse, I wasn’t having fun anymore. This was not a good creative balance for me, so I re-evaluated what was working and what wasn’t.
When you are doing creative work, you have to check in daily, and sometimes hourly, with yourself. Then you have to be realistic when things aren’t working for your highest good.
When I got real with myself, I realized that, above all else, I missed seeing people. With the kids out of the house, I only saw the four walls of my guest bedroom/office. And my dog, Buddy…who sleeps most of the time…so he’s not a very engaging conversationalist. To change things up, I started to volunteer at my kids’ school, helping their classes during writing time, which is so very fulfilling to me and connects to my love of teaching and writing.
I also decided to make self-care a priority. Being a SAHM, I had been wearing yoga pants for the better part of a decade. This made me realize I needed to wear real pants, go to the hairdresser more than once a year, and treat myself to an overpriced coffee once in awhile.
I also dedicated more time to working out, so my body would feel better; it’s hard to work at a computer when your muscles are tense and haven’t been stretched or exercised for long periods of time. Currently, I am training for a half marathon. Disclaimer: You do NOT have to train for a marathon to make your creative dreams come true. I enjoy the physical goal in conjunction with the mental goal of writing a novel, so it works for me. You do you, girl!
During my runs, which are two or three days a week, I listen to podcasts about 1) writing or 2) living your best life. Gretchen Rubin’s Happier, The Lively Show, and The Creative Penn are three favorites. These three women podcasters are amazing creatives and entrepreneurs, so I learn some stuff, plus get inspired about my own creative and business endeavors.
So I’ve landed on a more realistic and balanced writing practice. The sweet spot for me is writing two solid hours a day and spending an hour on the business side of things. To be kind to my body, I take five-minute breaks every half hour. Some days I write for longer, but I don’t push it to the point of getting a crick in my neck or hating my work.
Is it enough?
Maybe it’s not “enough” compared to James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, but it makes me feel happy, fulfilled, and nurtured. And I’ve managed, in these childrearing years, to churn out three solid novels, win an award in a nationwide contest for my first, draft the fourth, and have fun doing it. So it’s enough for me.
Tell me about your own creative endeavors in the comments below. Don’t be afraid to brag! Be proud of your accomplishments when you’re doing the very challenging work of raising tiny humans.
About Camille Faye
Camille Faye lives in Missouri, loves on her family, and writes while her kiddos are in school. Her writing is inspired by her experiences growing up in a haunted house and her travels to 28 countries and counting! “Like” her Author Camille Faye page on Facebook where you can give your feedback for upcoming books. And visit www.camillefaye.com to sign up for her newsletter, download book discussion questions, and get the latest on Camille’s writing.
About The Voodoo Butterfly Series:
When twenty-five-year old Sophie Nouveau inherits her grandmother’s voodoo shop she knows nothing about voodoo. Or her family’s history of Mind Changers, who are specialized voodoo priestesses with the magical ability to change evil people to good. Check out the newest installment of the series, FLIGHTwhich releases April 24, 2019. Become a fan of Camille’s because there are two more books on Sophie’s life after this one!