The Effect of School Closures on My Writing Routine

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When the talking heads on the news began arguing about whether or not schools should reopen, I was firmly in the camp that they shouldn’t. I live with a member of a vulnerable population, and I don’t want one of my children to bring COVID-19 home from school.

I didn’t expect the many changes it would have on my career and home life.

My routine

The most significant change has been expediting my exit from a full-time job. I used to supplement my income with my writing royalties, but now I need to go all-in on my home business.

6:00 am to 7:00 am. How I use this time hasn’t been affected. I use this time for working on flexibility, core strength, jumping rope, and basic martial arts techniques. I also meditate a bit.

7:00 am to 8:00 am. This hour has changed a lot. Where I used to get an hour of writing in before showering and eating breakfast, now I wake up the children, rush through the shower, and fix a basic breakfast. My eldest daughter (I have a 10th grader, a 4th grader, and a 1st grader) has helped me get a healthy breakfast going this week. During the first week of school, I struggled to get anything besides Eggos out in time.

8:00 am to 10:30 am. School starts. This is where I balance dealing with connectivity issues with helping my 1st and 4th graders stick to their schedule. The 4th grader picked it up pretty quickly, but the 1st grader needs a lot of help with internet navigation and finding her worksheets. When I get them going, I have a few minutes to check some emails, work on some marketing, and do some freewriting for the articles I plan to write. At 10:15, I start working on lunch.

10:30 am to 11:30 am. Lunchtime! The kids eat and go out in the backyard to play with the dog. I would love to say that I spend this time being productive, but I’m spending this time to decompress from my busy morning. I make some tea and watch my kids play.

11:30 am to 2:00 pm. Back to school. I spend more time in our backyard workshop during this part of the day, where I built a dojo/gym/dance studio for our family. The kids use this area for P.E. (the eldest goes to a performing arts school, so her P.E. is Ballroom Dancing). The day usually ends with reading and paperwork by the kids. This frees me up to start planning out the rest of my day.

2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. After a quick afternoon snack, I’m able to get to work. I’m so grateful that we’re not getting any homework (ironic as it is). I spend this three-hour block knocking out somewhere around 4,000 words. It bothers me that this is the first time I get to write for the day, I prefer to write earlier, but I make the best of it.

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. I am preparing dinner, getting kids ready for bed, and storytime. We either sit around the fire pit and listen to my grandfather’s stories, or I read to my kids.

7:00 pm to 8:00 pm. This is training time. As with the beginning of the day, I take some time for myself to train in my workshop. If I’m not feeling it that day, I’ll watch some Netflix (I just finished Warrior Nun and The Order). While I’m doing this, my kids will be spending some time watching T.V. or playing. They go to bed at 8:00.

8:00 pm to 10:00 pm. If I trained, I’ll take a quick shower before getting to the all-important reading time. It’s vital that writers not only put down words but consume them. I recently finished Real Help by Ayodeji Awosika and am getting into Stardust by Neil Gaiman (great movie, by the way, I’m looking forward to the read). I like to have a drink while I read/watch (premium stock rum with a large ice cube or red wine), so I might be one or two drinks in by 10:00.

10:00 pm to 11:00 pm. My wife and I spend this hour out on our balcony, talking and checking our social media. A few times a week, we share a cigar. 11:00 is bedtime.


It hasn’t been all bad

Yes, I had to quit my job a few months sooner than I wanted to, which has put some financial constraints on us that we’re starting to feel. But I’ve also been able to improve my relationships with my children. When I left the house a few years ago to work full-time (previously, I had run a publishing company from home), I noticed that my family had grown a little distant without me there — my workdays often went anywhere from eight to sixteen hours.

What’s interesting is that the time constraints on my writing made me more productive. Since I only have a few hours, I make sure to maximize that time.


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