When I wrote my first novel, I was a full-time college student, full-time 911 dispatcher, new wife, and mother of a three year old and a seven year old. And I wasn’t studying English or writing (that was undergrad). I was majoring in Political Science with plans to go to law school, so I was writing papers and prepping for debates damn near every day. 


But I wanted to write a book. I didn’t know how I’d make it happen, but I was hellbent on doing it. Here are 10 things I did to find the time and motivation to write my first book:

Did lots of wee-hour writing

With school, work, and the kids, it was really all the time I had. I’d stay up until about two or three in the morning, writing next to my snoring husband. Yeah, waking up in the morning was made that much more harder to do, but I worked it out. Then it got to the point, sometimes, where I couldn’t even sleep unless I did some writing first.

Wrote at work

As I used to say, I’d “do my work at work.” The job pretty much stayed busy, but every now and then I snuck in a couple sentences. 

Told my co-workers 

I’m super transparent, but I’m also really private. I don’t know how the two can co-exist, but hey. I didn’t even tell ’em when I was pregnant. They found out when I couldn’t hide it anymore. But I told ’em I writing a book. A few were really proud of me and very encouraging. Some were faking-smiling skeptics. Both helped. If I open my mouth about it, I gotta do it. Generally speaking…

Called babysitters 

Most of the times the kids were gone, I didn’t even write, to be honest with you. I’d be too tired to, or I’d have other stuff to catch up on. Either way, the rest-up and the catch-up still gave me the necessary time and energy when the kids were back and I decided to write again. 

Found a conference

The Black Writer’s Reunion and Conference. I went through a lot to be there, but I made it. I felt it in my bones that I had to be there. And thank God I did. I learned a helluva lot and connected with beaucoup writers–those with agents, some self-published, and many tryna finish their first book like me. 

Connected with other writers 

Or should I say I stayed connected with other writers. A few I met at the conference, we started a group chat to hold each other accountable. I could talk to my mom, husband, and home girl all day, but they couldn’t really feel my pain (and pleasure) of writing a book. Others writers could. [Put your $200 down for the writing retreat this May.]

Read books on writing

I read so many books on the writing process. Two of my favorites being The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction by Jewell Parker Rhodes and On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. 

Talked through the hard parts

I’m a floater, so that helps me when I’m stuck. I don’t necessarily need advice; I just need a sounding board, someone to hear me ramble. I used my partner and closest friends for this part. And it helped. [What kind of writer are you?]

Planned a party

Now I didn’t start planning a party until I was about 75% finished, but that helped too because it gave me something to look forward to. 

Kept going

When I decided to write a book, one of my friends said she was going to write with me. When I found the conference, another said to count her in. Both backed out, but I kept going. At 1 in the morning when I was tired as shit and the devil was tryna convince me that no one was going to read it or buy it, I kept going. Once I finished writing it, I didn’t know what to do next (find an agent, an editor, someone to design my book cover, etc.), but I kept going. 

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