How I wrote 3 Books in 3 Years while managing 3 Kids
Created by Parentune Support Updated on Dec 31, 2019
You could call it an occupational hazard: everywhere I go, I’m asked the same questions:
• Wow! How do you do so much?
• Where do you find the time?
• You really are a Superwoman!
It’s the last one that really makes me cringe inwardly - because, of course, I’m not a Superwoman and I don’t actually feel like one on most days. So why do I get asked this question?
• My third novel ‘There’s Something About You’ has just broken this week into the AC Neilsen Top 10 books, debuting at a grand number 2 position. Let me add that this has never happened to me: it’s been an uphill climb in the world of Indian writing.
• I’m the Category-Head for the Tablets division in a large Mobile company –I re-entered the workspace last year after a break of couple of years of a Sabbatical and consulting assignments. It’s a dynamic job and I’m mostly loving the challenge.
• I’m a fitness freak to the exent that I’m a Zumba instructor on the weekends - and I have other interests too, which make me a student of Yoga, Piano and Guitar.
• And yes, of course, most importantly, I have three small children whom I often refer to as Peanut, Pickle and Papad mostly while blogging – please note these aren’t their real names. I’m not that bad a mom!)
While some people accuse me of having a Time-Turner (like Hermione in the Harry Potter series), here’s a short breakdown of how I actually do manage to get stuff done. It’s not Rocket Science, and it’s something anyone can apply.
1. Identify your driving passion– you understand of course, I’m not talking about driving, but a passion that drives you to actually start a project, continue it and finish it. In my case, I was jolted out of my corporate stupor by a difficult pregnancy and a near death experience – and only after this, I started writing my books. No offence, but I think it’s such a pity that most people don’t have near-death experiences. Which is why I say jolt yourself out of it now? Is there something niggling away at you, a feeling of not having done something you were meant to? Examine it. Now’s always a good time to start.
2. Get the right help at home – I was lucky, of course. I’ve had good help from the time my twin sons were born five years ago. But it also took work to retain my help – I’ve never been the type of employer to over-supervise (or supervise at all). I’m also overstaffed, to be honest. My brother in law has remarked in the past that it might be time to get my various household help a uniform and hold an Assembly in the morning. I don’t let cracks like that deter me from ensuring my household runs smoothly. This is of course a personal choice – some people love running their home themselves. In my case, I’d really rather just hold the reins but delegate relentlessly.
3. Set your expectations right – No, I’m sorry, I don’t have it all and you can’t have it all, either. Believe me: I’ve read a LOT of books on positive psychology and here’s a secret - I think The Secret has it all wrong. The Universe is not this magnificent catalogue with all its goodies waiting for your order to flow out into the Cosmos. This is the world we live in. We have to make the best of it. You don’t always succeed at everything you try, but what a pity it would be not to try at all.
4. Be Ruthless About Guarding Your Time- From Television. From Social Media. From Social Dos. From any time commitments that take you away from what you really want to do. These are again all personal choices – you have to define your non-negotiable. In my case, the times that get protected are Story time and Homework time with my kids. But most other things can go. In a networked world, there are always, always going to be distractions. You have to carefully and deliberately turn your attention to doing what matters to you. This whole lament about ‘I don’t have the time to exercise’ or ‘I would write my book if only I had the time’ doesn’t work – it’s basically an excuse. Take a good hard look at what sucks your time up. I know my mobile (and Facebook) does! Switching off for even 1.5 hours to sit and work on something is good. That’s how I write my books. And it doesn’t take more than a few months this way.
5. Energize yourself- Are you getting enough sleep? Do you eat right? Are you enrolling in my Zumba class any time soon? (Hee hee!) I find that the days I do not do Yoga or Zumba, I’m lethargic and unable to function as well as other days. The benefits of exercise are well known. Why is it that people still say stuff like ‘I don’t have the time for exercise?’ Especially as you get older, exercise is something that adds back to you and creates more time than it takes away. It’s something that has to be done every day. And that’s that.
6. Be collaborative- Help others achieve their goals. Co-operate with folks when they ask you for a favour and need your unique skills. Volunteer for some activity. It opens up your mind and helps you get a perspective on life. I’d highly recommend doing something that takes you out there in a group and makes you feel a part of something larger. There’s no specific end benefit to this except that you get good ideas, and that it eventually comes around and is enjoyable in the process. It may seem contradictory to the whole ‘Be ruthless with guarding your time’ –
Those would be my top tips, of course. But it’s incomplete if I don’t mention that I also have the most supportive spouse– a man who encouraged me to take a sabbatical, and to write, even going to the extent of letting me tell the story of our own marriage in my first book ‘Just Married, Please Excuse’.He willingly dressed up to pose for the cover photo of a drunk man lying on a beanbag for my second book ‘Sorting out Sid’.He was the first to breathlessly announce to the world that ‘There’s Something About you’ is topping the charts. The role of a supportive partner as you try to balance everything in your life can never be downplayed. I’m sure your deepest goals can still be achieved without a partner, of course, but I still hope you’re as lucky in this department as I am.
That’s it then! That’s how I managed to write Three Books in Three Years while managing Three Kids. In all honesty, I don’t think I thought all that much about it at the time. For me, it was more like just following the iconic brand’s advice to Just Do It, and the rest of the stuff fell in place. So if I had to choose one thing, I’d highly advise dropping everything else and just going out there and doing your thing!
Yashodhara Lal is a best-selling author, and her latest book 'There's Something About You' has just released and is currently one of the top-selling books in the country. She has previously written ‘Just Married, Please Excuse’ and ‘Sorting out Sid’