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Freelancing Fathers

In the comments for my post on Becoming a Game Designer, Wayne asks:

I used to be a freelancer… A long time ago, in a galaxy far away. But since I had kids I just can’t seem to find the time to do anything. What’s your secret?

Honestly, it’s a daily struggle. I’m home today with my eldest, who’s sick. Because I’m a freelancer and my wife has a regular job, I can take time off more easily than she can, so I do. If too many of these days roll together, though, I get behind. Then I spend a couple weeks (or more) digging my way back out of the hole I’m in.

This has been a perpetual problem for me since the quads were born. There’s just no getting around how much time kids demand from their parents. Because I insist on trying to be a good father (as I’m sure you do), I don’t see an easy out. Still, there are ways to minimize the troubles.

To keep from getting behind too much, I treat my job as job. I have an office outside my house, and I try to get to it as regularly as I can. It’s not as convenient as staggering down the hall to a spare bedroom, but when I’m there it’s clear that I’m there to work. Home offices often have too many distractions within easy reach.

When I’m at the office, I try to work standard, eight-hour days. Mine get broken up somewhat from having to haul kids around town during the day, but I set aside as much time as I can to get the work done. I sometimes end up working in the evenings after everyone else is asleep too, although I do that at a tiny desk in my bedroom or on the couch in the living room instead.

I used to write 5,000+ words per day. Now that I have kids, I shoot for more like 3,000+ words per day. When I have to, though, I buckle down and charge on through. I kiss the wife and kids good-bye and promise to spend more time with them as soon as I can.

I wrote one novel this year in 16 days. I also topped my personal best with an 11,000-word day. It’s not a pace I can keep up forever, especially since I really do love my family and like spending time with them, but I can turn the dial up to 11 when I must.

Of course, I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my wife. She’s supported me every step of the way—and let me know when I charged over the line. Those of you who have met her know, she’s the best.

Comments 8

  1. Good advice. It does seem to be hard to concentrate in your own house. 🙂 I just had Twins and even trying to find time to read is tough.

    Quads…Wow. Matt are you originally from Michigan?

    BTW, Marked for Death was great!

  2. Good advice. It does seem to be hard to concentrate in your own house. 🙂 I just had Twins and even trying to find time to read is tough.

    Quads…Wow. Matt are you originally from Michigan?

    BTW, Marked for Death was great!

  3. Thanks for the kind words, Wayne. I also forgot two things that help:

    1) I only sleep about six hours a night, if that. If you have twins, you probably know how this can happen. Congratulations, by the way!

    2) I do this full-time, so no day job takes priority—just the family.

    For me, I was born and raised in Wisconsin, but I went to college at the University of Michigan and lived in Ann Arbor on and off for nine years. My father’s from Detroit, originally, and I have family around Traverse City. My wife’s from the UP (Upper Peninsula, for readers not in the know) and still has family there. So, my ties to the Wolverine state are strong.

  4. Post
    Author

    Thanks for the kind words, Wayne. I also forgot two things that help:

    1) I only sleep about six hours a night, if that. If you have twins, you probably know how this can happen. Congratulations, by the way!

    2) I do this full-time, so no day job takes priority—just the family.

    For me, I was born and raised in Wisconsin, but I went to college at the University of Michigan and lived in Ann Arbor on and off for nine years. My father’s from Detroit, originally, and I have family around Traverse City. My wife’s from the UP (Upper Peninsula, for readers not in the know) and still has family there. So, my ties to the Wolverine state are strong.

  5. Cool. Yes, I definetly know how hard it is to sleep now. 🙂 I also have a full time job, it was much easier to find time to write when I was single. 🙂

    I’ve lived in Traverse City for most of my life. Except for the 9 year Air Force stint. I used to freelance for WEG back when they were still solvent.

  6. Cool. Yes, I definetly know how hard it is to sleep now. 🙂 I also have a full time job, it was much easier to find time to write when I was single. 🙂

    I’ve lived in Traverse City for most of my life. Except for the 9 year Air Force stint. I used to freelance for WEG back when they were still solvent.

  7. Hi Wayne:

    I did some work for WEG too, in a both of its incarnations. Best of luck with your writing. It’s hard but worth it. Family always comes first though.

    Traverse City is a wonderful place. I don’t get back there often enough. My grandparents live in town—they used to be in Buckley—and my aunt and uncle live on Torch Lake.

  8. Post
    Author

    Hi Wayne:

    I did some work for WEG too, in a both of its incarnations. Best of luck with your writing. It’s hard but worth it. Family always comes first though.

    Traverse City is a wonderful place. I don’t get back there often enough. My grandparents live in town—they used to be in Buckley—and my aunt and uncle live on Torch Lake.

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