Managing a job, a family,
and a book

Managing a job, a family, and a bookComing back to my blog after a babymoon, I thought it would be interesting to touch on a topic that has been prominent in my mind, and something that I know many people struggle with: how to manage a job, a family, and personal time for creative expression.

Most people have a 9 to 5 day job (if they’re lucky; for many folks, it’s longer). Then, if they can muster the energy, they carve time out for their personal projects around their bumpers of sleep. Be it late in the evening or early in the morning they must preserve a time for creativity.

Derick and the Baby
For me, as a new father to an infant, my world has suddenly dramatically shifted from focusing on my own personal projects to ‘how much sleep can I recoup‘ or ‘when can I have a walk with my wife alone’. My energy and inspiration has gone through a dramatic reality check and I’ve had to evolve my discipline and schedule to meet the challenges of managing a baby. Simultaneously, as all parents know, I’ve been exposed to a new level of inspiration and love that has pushed me further to create.

To help myself try to balance everything, I created an ideal schedule to serve as a starting point, a foundation to help keep my work-life balance in order.

Schedule Foundation
Schedule Foundation

While this schedule may be my ideal, reality has forced me to move things around. For example, I’ve recently been shuffling my professional networking and social time to adapt to the baby’s sleep schedule. While it used to be on Tuesday evenings, recently, I try to schedule this time over lunch, or on a night when my wife has more flexibility in time to take care of our daughter. However, in moving one activity, I try not to steal time from another. So, if I need to have 2 or 3 networking or social events in one week, I then need to be accountable for the time that I didn’t have with my family and I have to shift time the following week to balance out the month.

Schedule Reality
Schedule Reality

Currently, with my new fatherhood responsibilities, my biggest challenge has been managing my lack of sleep. While this exhaustion has made getting up early to exercise or carving out time for writing difficult, having a foundation schedule has helped me keep reasonable short term goals. And now, as my daughter is getting a little older and settling into a routine, hopefully I will be able to as well.

Most importantly, despite my creative world being turned upside down, I’ve got one of the most inspiring little creatures at my fingertips now!

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Reaching a first draft: defining a timeline and milestones

Reach First DraftThere are several ways to plan writing a story as a First Draft. Some people have a clear idea of what tale they want to spin, they write it, and then they find a way to publish it. Other writers start by testing their market, and then writing a story to reach their specific target audience. In my case, I am pursuing a hydrid approach- we’ll see how it works… I’m still trying to figure out the right balance.

As I started preparing to write my story, I knew the basic plot structure and how I wanted to differentiate it from other mysteries. But having a big idea and making it a reality on paper requires some planning. First, I made a projected schedule of milestones to guide my story development (below). Having some form of protective boundaries like these during the creative process is a must, but my boundaries were carefully established so they were not too creatively restrictive or too lackadaisical. For me, as I write, I need to continuously step back and take a breath and ask myself what’s working and what’s not? Then, I refine my process. But, everyone operates differently, and what works for me may not be the best scenario for you. Moving forward, as I shape my ideas onto paper, I plan to share specific chapters with you, in order to gauge how the story is flowing.

For this post, I’m avoiding the role of an agent, publisher, and marketing requirements for story development and how the first draft is handled. I promise this will be further down the road.

For my First Draft timeline, I identified the following milestones:

*Defining Timeline

  1. Writing
    • High level- Plot Outline
    • Opening
    • Conflict
    • Climax
    • Post Climax
    • Resolution
  2. High level- Characters development
    • Personas
    • Dialogue
  3. High level- Environments
    • Setting
    • Subtles of life (my collected ideas for content bridging.)
  4. Plot, Character, and Environment integration
    • Refined Plot
    • Refined Characters
    • Refined Environment
  5. Editing Review
    • Self
    • Editors

*First Draft Completed


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