Writing Between the Lines (aka: Time Management)

Write between the lines.

It’s a concept many of us writerly types are familiar with. After all, few of us have the luxury to just sit at home and write all day. We have careers. Kids to raise. Errands to run, meals to prepare, volunteering to do. You’d be amazed by how many of your favorite authors actually have a life beyond cranking out novels. So how do they get it done?

They write between the lines.

William Faukner Quote

Each one of us gets exactly 24 hours to do it all. Eat. Sleep. Manage the glut of daily routines and responsibilities that eat up the hours of our day. But good writers, successful writers, the ones who manage to do it all and get their work published, too, understand the secret. They write while riding the train to work. They write while their kids are in gymnastics class or at soccer practice. They write during those 30 minutes while waiting for the casserole to finish baking in the oven. If there is a crack in the sidewalk of time, we writers will find it and fill it in with words.

Busy is my other middle name.

Busy career woman

On a normal day, I wake up before the sun rises to go for a run, or head to the gym to exercise. Then I check in with my teens and commute to work. After work, I usually cook a nutritious meal for the family, then return to the gym for another workout. I spend the rest of the evening reading, writing, catching a TV show, and spending time with the teens before I take a moment to prepare lunch and clothes for the next day. Somehow, it all gets done. Even the laundry and dishes. (Okay, not always). And I nearly always manage a good 8 hours of sleep every night.

Yes, maybe it’s because I’m from Jupiter. Or maybe it’s possible because I have no friends or relationships to eat into more of my precious time. But maybe, just maybe, it all boils down to one essential thing. Time management.

time management

It takes a lot of discipline to do it all every day. It also takes effective tools, and consistency to make those tools work for you. Calendars are useful, as are reminder apps. Imagine — making your phone remember everything so that you can focus on what’s more important!

Sometimes, I listen to other people complain that they just don’t have enough time in the day to get to the gym. To cook nutritious meals with whole foods. To read books. I just smile and try to empathize. But if they were to ask me for advice, I would offer this one thing: look for the cracks.

Want to read more books? How about listening to audiobooks during your daily commute, or together with your family in the evenings? What if you plan to spend exactly 15 minutes before bed each night engrossed in a book you really want to read? It’s slow progress, maybe, but it’s still progress.

Want to exercise more? How about bringing your sneakers to work and going for daily walks during the last half of your lunch hour? How about purposely climbing the stairs at your work building? Or a habit of walking your dog each evening. Or you can brave the early morning and go to the gym when it’s not at all crowded.

strong woman stress management

It is easy to find excuses. It’s easy to come up with reasons why you can’t make those small changes that you know will improve your mind, your health, your life. It’s easy to collapse on the couch and watch TV and eat processed foods. But very little good ever came from following the path of least resistance.

You don’t have to be a writer to write between the lines. Each one of us has at least one big thing we’d like to accomplish. You’re probably thinking of it right now while reading this post. The question is, what small changes are you willing to make to reach your goal? What cracks in your daily path are you ready to fill?

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Child Discipline (A Cautionary Article)

Little Willie, with a curse
Threw the teapot at the nurse.
When it struck her on the nose,
His father cheered, “How straight he throws!”

–”Eros”

Published in The Westminster Problems Book, 1908.

Naughty Kids “How do I keep my child from becoming spoiled?” In my line of work, parents of young children often ask me questions such as this. Of course, as child development is my specialty, I try my best to guide parents toward solutions and resources that will help them to effectively discipline their children. There is a tremendous wealth of information on child-rearing these days – enough to make one’s head spin. I will not bother to publish links to my favorite resources, except for this beautifully written article I recently read, by John Robbins, which addresses the ways in which we often spoil our children in today’s culture: What Really Spoils Our Children? Here is one of my favorite exerpts from the article (although I highly recommend that parents read the entire piece):

It’s not love that spoils our kids. They become spoiled when we ply them with too many toys, too much stimulation, and too much of the wrong kind of attention. They become spoiled when they learn, often from our example, to identify their self-worth with others’ approval, with how they look, with how much stuff they have, with how expensive their clothes are, or with how large their homes are.

I will not pretend to be a perfect parent. I, too, am guilty of overindulging my children, of not enforcing consistent discipline at times, and of not insisting often enough that they help out with housework (though my children will beg to differ). But I certainly try, as every good parent does, to teach my children how to become disciplined, kind, thoughtful, creative, productive adults. And, like every good parent, I occasionally seek child-rearing advice from other wise people, such as Hilaire Beloc. demon child spoiled teen

What’s that? You’ve never heard of Hilaire Beloc? Why, his Cautionary Tales for Children have been used by good parents to frighten their children into good behavior since 1907. Not only is the book filled with  sensible and practical moral instruction to prevent children from growing up to become spoiled brats, but the book is also filled with amusing and lighthearted bedtime stories, such as the story ofAugustus: Who would not have any Soup Today or George: Who played with a Dangerous Toy, and suffered a Catastrophe of considerable Dimensions. Here is one of my absolute favorite anecdotes: