I started writing a novel last year. Of course, with two young kids and a day job writing nonfiction, I had no time. If I was going to get up extra early to write, that precious ‘starlighting’ time in the morning had to be sacred, so I put my children’s sleeping hours on a timer.
It’s dark where I live. In the winter months we go to bed when it’s dark and wake up in the dark. For a young kid, there’s no distinct clue when it’s time to wake up. Is it midnight? Is it 7am? Unless you’re old enough to read a clock, it’s impossible to tell. Our house is also small: when one person’s up, the whole house is up. There’s no “away.”
So my first step before writing the novel was a trip to the hardware store. I bought an electric timer — one of those programmable timers people use to flip their living room lights on and off to make potential burglars think someone’s at home–and rigged it up to a small blue night light. The easy-to-follow rule: when the the Morning Light is on, you can get up. Not before.
I set it for 6:45am. That gave me a blissful hour or hour and a half to get my writing done in peace. No early risers. No demands or distracting voices from children before quarter to seven.
The Morning Light works like a charm. My kids have a clear signal. I enjoy protected time to concentrate. I finished the first draft of my novel in 10 months.
The Morning Light is my favorite “time-creating” tip for young parents and helps me set limits on the people I live with. Writers, parents, creative dreamers — what are your tricks and tips to protect your own time? What boundaries do you set on your friends or family to carve out time you need?