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Everything I Know About Being Prepared for an Emergency

Everything I Know About Being Prepared for an Emergency | Writing Between Pauses

On February 24, around 12pm, it started snowing.

It snowed for the rest of the day without stopping. By the time it got dark outside, we had 2-3 inches. My husband and I excitedly talked about a potential snow day (he is a teacher after all and sometimes, they do get excited to have a snow day!) as we got ready for bed. However, our lights started flickering on and off around 8pm. They kept going off, then coming back. Twenty minutes later, it would repeat. We went around unplugging things, sure that if they went off, they’d be on within a few hours like always. We started a fire in the wood stove and left it for the night.

We climbed into bed and fell asleep. At midnight, the lights went out for real. At 2am, Forrest woke up, terrified in the dark. I brought him to our bed and as he went to sleep, I realized I could hear strange sounds outside. Crashing sounds. I shrugged. i hadn’t looked out a window. I didn’t know then that it was still snowing.

It snowed into the next morning. We got up at 6am and got the wood stove going again. As I let Remus out, I realized that branches were falling off the trees. Those were the crashing sounds. When we stood outside, we could hear not just branches falling, but entire trees. The cedar tree right next to our house was swaying. As it got light outside, we saw how bad it was: multiple large branches had fallen off the cedar tree.

I got dressed in a snow jacket and gloves, pulling on my boots. My mom and I had been texting all morning; their driveway was blocked and my dad had gotten his truck stuck trying to find a way out. I started down our driveway, slightly terrified by how many trees were falling around me, to find that we were also blocked in. 4-5 trees had fallen across our driveway. The snow was almost up to my knees then and still coming down.

Throughout the day, I packed up our emergency supplies: a suitcase of clothes, our box of important documents, things for Remus. If we needed to leave, I told myself, we would be able to. I kept repeating that to myself, even though I knew our car couldn’t get down our driveway. The cedar tree outside our house lose 5-6 large branches, but none hit our house. By the time it stopped snowing, everything was a mess: our internet satellite dish was snapped basically in half, our backyard was a mess, we had no power and very little food, and we couldn’t leave.

That was Monday, February 25. The next day, my parents were able to help us clear the driveway and we were able to go to their house. The day after that, we were able to get to town and buy canned soup and extra water. And the day after that, my parents’ power was restored. Our power wouldn’t come back until Sunday, March 3. It was such a relief when it did.

During the week of the snowstorm, Oregon’s Governor, Kate Brown, declared a state of emergency. All the power companies were completely overwhelmed; the road I live on, for example, had almost every single section of power line damaged by a falling trees. On the road just beside my house, all the trees had fallen into the road, blocking on lane on a tight corner. The roads were covered in snow and ice, almost no one could get down their driveway unless they had a larger truck, and as I live in a rural area without city water, none of us had access to running water.

Before the snowstorm, Danny and I had often talked about being prepared for emergencies. We talked about things we needed to get, how we should have some batteries saved up, but we never did it. I did have about 6 gallons of water saved in our pantry, but that was it. When our power went out, we weren’t ready—and we definitely weren’t ready to be without power for 7 full days.

When we finally got our power restored, I got so many questions about being prepared for an emergency on Instagram that I knew I had to write about it. But I do want to start with a disclaimer: I’m definitely not a doomsday person at all. I think being prepared for an emergency is something we all have to account for; we never know when a big storm will hit, leaving us all without power for a long amount of time. It never hurts to be ready, even if it never happens.

With that out of the way, here’s what I learned during the big snowstorm.

1. You’ll Need Way More Water Than You Think

When our power went out, I had maybe 6-7 gallons of water saved up. For reference, most people say to be prepared, you need 1 gallon of water per person in the house (as well as any pets) for each day. That means if we were to be prepared for 2 weeks without water, we would need 4 gallons of water per day for 14 days. That’s 56 gallons of water! For the average person, it’s just not possible to store that much water, so my advice is: keep as much water as you are able to store. For us, the floor of our pantry is now dedicated to water storage: every time we use up a thing of juice or a gallon of milk, I clean the container out well, sterilize it, and fill it with fresh water. I have about 20 gallons right now, which is much better than 6!

One more note on this: some people think if they have city water, they won’t need to worry about this as their water will still run even if their power goes out. However, many people further into town during the storm did not have access to water as the sewers became backed up. Whether you have city water or a well, you should stockpile clean water no matter what, just in case something detrimental happens to the water supply.

2. Have Lots of Food On Hand

Because we were without power for so long, we had to throw away everything in our fridge and freezer. It was all unusable and went bad fast. (More on this later.) That meant, we only had a little bit of food available. I tend to prefer to eat fresh foods: fruits and vegetables, meats and cheese. You know, the basics. We survived on oatmeal and peanut butter sandwiches for the first few days, until I got some cans of soup at the grocery store.

My stash of canned food was shockingly low. Because we have a wood stove, I was able to cook food like oatmeal or make soup, but I didn’t have much. My advice is to always have a supply of good canned food available, as this will stay good the longest, as well as things like canned milk and canned broth. We also were able to make coffee with a French press, which sounds like a luxury, but it was often the one thing I looked forward to!

3. Make Sure to Empty Perishable Items

If your power goes out and there is no estimate for it to return (by the second day of the storm, our utility company was saying to be prepared to be without power for up to two weeks), you’re going to want to throw away your perishable items ASAP. This will save you a huge headache, as it means you won’t have anything rot or drip all over your fridge or freezer. It will also make clean up once power is restored a lot faster. It feels awful to throw away so much food—as an example, I had to throw away a bunch of Costco freezer items I had literally just bought, including a $20 box of chicken nuggets. I nearly cried. But trust me, it can’t be saved. It can’t be saved.

4. Keep a Large Cooler Available

Well, ok: remember when I just said, it can’t be saved? Well, that’s kind of not true. Some stuff can be saved.

If you’re in the middle of a winter storm, my advice is to get a large cooler and fill it with snow; put it outside; and put as much perishable food inside as you can. This is how Danny and I saved our milk and coffee creamer. We could at least keep that routine for Forrest (having milk ASAP in the morning), which was good. In the summer, this wouldn’t work obviously, but it made me feel better to at least save even 5% of our fridge.

5. Everything You Need a Stockpile Of

I don’t need to explain this at all, but here’s a list of everything you need to have a stockpile of:

  • Flashlights (probably one big, sturdy one; one lattern; and several small, easily portable flashlights)

  • Batteries (of all kinds)

  • Candles

  • Matches

  • Medical supplies (any medications you take, as well as you’re preferred pain reliever, bandages of all kinds, gauze, tape, scissors, antiseptic ointment and wipes, soap to wash wounds, and more)

  • Pots and pans that can be used over direct fire or on a wood stove (that means, no Teflon coating or plastic handles/lids)

  • Blankets and towels

  • Antibacterial wipes to wash hands

  • Gasoline or diesel fuel for your car and/or generator

  • Wood (if you have a wood stove or fireplace)

  • A power pack to charge phones and any communication devices

  • A hand power or solar powered radio

6. You Need an Alternative Heat Source

We were incredibly lucky to have a wood stove, as it kept us from being too cold and we were able to cook on it. Even during the summer, we would be able to use our wood stove to cook and boil water to clean with. It goes without saying: an alternative heat source is incredibly important for any emergency preparedness.

If you aren’t able to add an alternative heat source into your home, investing in a generator is another option; there are lots of generators available these days and they are relatively easy to set up (you just need a specific outlet on the outside of your home).


Whew! That’s it (at least for now). There is a lot more about emergency preparedness that I could write about—and I definitely haven’t covered everything you need to be prepared for an emergency. But these were all the notes I kept track of while we were without power.

Have something to add? Let me know in the comments!

Is It Time for NaNoWriMo Editing?

Is It Time for NaNoWriMo Editing? | Writing Between Pauses

I write about NaNoWriMo a lot. It’s no secret that I really love doing NaNoWriMo every November, even though it often leaves me a bit burnt out. And also that I never plan to publish anything professionally, at least right now. For me, NaNoWriMo is more about having fun and really writing for 30 days—and less about producing something I think people want to read. (This might be the imposter syndrome talking!)

However, I’ve never really touched on what comes after NaNoWriMo. You know, the part where you let your novel sit for a little while then you go back to it. And edit it. And keep writing on it.

I’ve done that. (I promise! I probably reread all my NaNoWriMo novels at least twice a year.) But I never really talk about doing it or write about doing it. (Oof, writing about writing, am I right?) It’s just something I do, piece by piece, for several months, until it’s time for the next NaNoWriMo novel.

And just like NaNoWriMo, I have my own specific process for editing my NaNoWriMo novels. Obviously, I come from the unique place of not intending to publish anything, but just wanting to write something really good that I personally enjoy reading. I thought I would share my process in case it is helpful for others.

1. Find a beta

Betas are, in the writing world, people who edit your work for you. The term popularly comes from fanfiction—and I have a group of people I’ve known for years who beta stories for people nearly every single weekend. It’s just something they enjoy doing and they are very good at it. So if you are a writing hobbyist, and you really want to improve, and you don’t just want someone to read your work and tell you its awesome, look for a beta. There are so many great ones out there and you can get great plot and grammar feedback. Many betas have their areas of expertise, so even having 2 or 3 people read over your NaNoWriMo novel and make notes can make a huge difference.

2. Write a list of scenes

One thing I usually do a few months after November is going through what I’ve written and making a list of each scene. I can then use that list to guide me as I do my big reread and note where I want to rewrite a scene, move it around, or take it out completely. I can take notes on that list about what I want to change, and how, and why.

3. Reread, reorder, & rewrite

Once I have a lot of notes about what I want to do (as well as feedback from my betas of what worked and what didn’t), I start the often rather difficult process of doing those things. For me, this part is really tedious—it’s what I hate most about editing. But having a list of the original order of scenes allows me to know what I moved and where and why, so I can keep better track of what I’m doing without getting confused. Usually during the process, I start doing way more than I originally intended, then make myself tired. I tend to cap editing at about 2 hours a week, because otherwise I will absolutely get burnt out.

4. Print it out

If you read that last sentence, you’re probably like, “hold on… you only edit for 2 hours a week?” Yeah. Alongside all the writing I do, for this blog, for my freelance work, and for my job, doing too much makes me go bonkers pretty fast. And there is nothing worse than being absolutely frozen on a deadline for a job that pays, you know? Steps 2 and 3 usually take me a good 3-4 months (I haven’t even started them yet for my most recent NaNoWriMo novel, I’m not ready!). But, once I get that first round done, I will print out my NaNoWriMo novel and read through it with a pen. At this point, I will start noting what I want to add to it, if anything. Sometimes, I want to add in scenes I had originally removed, but have them rewritten and in a totally new place. Or written a totally new way. This step is one of the most fun parts for me, but can also be quite tedious—like when I randomly decide to change the voice about halfway through.

Once I finish this step, I start writing again—compiling my notes from my printed copy. Then, I start the editing process over again: betas, the list, and more writing. I recently thought about restarting this process for my NaNoWriMo novel from 2014—it’s one of my favorites, but needs the most work, as well as a load of research to fix some major errors.

What’s your NaNoWriMo editing process like?

What I Learned from My December Slump

What I Learned from My December Slurp | Writing Between Pauses

I didn’t mean to just stop blogging for most of December. I just sort of… found myself forgetting. Part of this was intentional—I wanted to spend less of December rushing around, trying to get a million things done and more time with Forrest, with Danny, with the important people in my life. And part of this was unintentional—I helped plan a wedding, attended that wedding, made more Christmas cookies than I probably should have, and in the evenings, I was so tired that it never even occurred to me that I needed to be writing those Blogmas blog posts I had planned in approximately June.

Part of why I fell behind was that I didn’t do enough forward planning.

And another part of why I fell behind, and stopped blogging, and struggled to restart was that I was just plain burnt out.

The first week I missed, I told myself that I’d work on it and I’d get my blog posts written over the weekend. I was just busy, I thought. That’s it! Nothing big!

But by the 2nd week of one measly blog post, I knew it: I was burnt out. I needed to take a break or I was at risk of just breaking myself.

I decided to keep doing just the bare minimum. I know that sounds awful. We are trained to believe that the “bare minimum” is the worst thing you can do aside from just quit, but I knew I was at risk of not just not being able to blog for myself, but for my day-to-day work. You know, the stuff that pays my bills.

A big part of me felt incredibly guilty and bad for the fact that I wasn’t blogging, wasn’t really doing much on social media, and definitely was just trying to get by. I had brands I was talking to, content I needed to create… but I was tired. It was the holidays. And sometimes, I know I do things when I don’t want to at a detriment to myself. So a very small part of me said: this is ok, you need this.

And I did. On January 1, I felt better than I had in months. I didn’t feel the pressure to be constantly writing, constantly working on something. But another part of me still held that guilt. I haven’t been posting on Instagram like I know I should. I haven’t been returning emails as promptly as I usually do and that’s what made me start to feel really guilty.

I had been burnt out and I was teetering on the edge of too much, absolutely too much. Giving myself a break was what I knew I needed to do—but there was still that niggling little voice that told me I was just being lazy. I think this is something that everyone my age struggles with; we’ve been told to work hard, constantly, our entire lives. And we also rely on our 24/7 gigs to get by (or at least I know I do). It makes us unable to do certain small things (like the fact that I’ve been meaning to mail a package for exactly 3 weeks) and it’s honestly just really bad for our mental health.

So, I had a slump. It happens. I took a break. I feel better. But what did I learn?

1. It’s Not That Urgent

I have about 5 emails in my inbox right now that the sender has marked urgent. That’s what it says in all caps in the subject line: URGENT, Brand Collab. Or URGENT, Want to do a giveaway?

And, bless you brands, and your brilliant PR teams, but those things aren’t urgent.

I often struggle with others perceptions of me. I don’t want to be appear lazy or like “one of those” influencers or bloggers. I want to appear capable, down-to-earth, responsible, and dedicated. I reply to emails within 2 days, always (that’s my rule). But sometimes even my two-days-and-I-swear-I’ll-get-back-to-you, I’ll get emails after 24 hours with, “is everything ok? I’m concerned.”

I understand that for many people their jobs are putting them under pressure to get a response. It happens at my day job, it happens in my gigs, and it definitely happens for this blog. But as a society, we really need to put our foot down. Sometimes, when I email a brand back, they won’t reply for a week. For 2 weeks. Then they expect a 3-day turnaround for content. I just don’t have the time! Everything I do revolves around a calendar and right now, that calendar is full. My 30 minutes of email time is all I’ve got.

I’ve realized a lot of this means I need to put up boundaries. In initial emails to brands, I need to tell them about my 2-day rule: If I haven’t replied in at least 3 days, send me a follow up. But don’t badger me. And please, it’s not urgent, we’re not performing surgery here or changing the world. All the reliance on the word urgent, when it’s not, just makes me anxious.

2. It’s Ok, You’ll Survive

About 18 months ago, my husband asked me why my blog was so important to me.

And my answer was: who am I without a blog?

I’ve always been the girl with the blog. I’ve always been that girl.

I don’t believe in being an artist without creating. And a lot of influencers, bless them, are artists without creating. Without naming names, there has been an influencer in the news, after being profiled on a Twitter thread, who is one just like that: she talks about giving creativity workshops, about creating art, but she doesn’t seem to actually create an art. She doesn’t publish, she doesn’t blog, she doesn’t even post on Instagram anymore. I feel bad for the callout, because who isn’t a bit of a poser at 22, but good gravy.

I’m a writer. It’s what I do. And a big part of me believes that if I were to stop blogging, I would lose my last tenuous connection to writing. I know this isn’t true. I know that I write more in my dayjob than most people do in their lifetimes, but it’s an unshakeable notion. I need to be writing, I tell myself, so I can at least convince myself that I’m creating.

But that ignores all the ways I do write. During my slump, during my break, I wrote a lot. I journaled, and wrote a few poems, and wrote a few short stories. I had ideas. And I’ve realized that sometimes blogging, as much as I love it, eats up the time I could spend reading, writing things that light my brain up, and being creative. It’s a hard balance to maintain: writing for work, writing for my blog that I love, and writing the stories I want to read. I don’t really know how to combine them quite yet, but I realize this now: It’s ok, I can survive without this if I have to.

3. I Don’t Know What To Do With Empty Time

This is perhaps my starkest lesson. After the holidays, when I cleaned up our house, took down the tree, and spent several frantic hours cleaning, I realized that, once I’m done, I don’t know what to do. What do people do with free time? Even in my downtime, when dinner is over and Forrest is playing and I don’t have any cleaning or work to do, I find myself getting antsy. I have to be doing something. I struggle to watch TV shows. Sometimes, I even struggle to sit still to read. I like being productive. I like moving. I like producing things. While many assure me there are worse ways to be, I realize I need to work on the fact that I always feel like time needs to be filled. That I have to go somewhere or do something. It’s ok to just sit and look out the window. It’s ok to play on my phone. It’s ok. It’s all ok.

Sweet, Spooky & Super Busy: My October Wrap Up

Sweet, Spooky & Super Busy: My October Wrap Up | Writing Between Pauses

How was your October?

More importantly, how was your Blogtober?

This year’s Blogtober felt like a little more of a challenge than last year. I had a lot going on this month—visitors, a lot of client work, Forrest in school, and a lot more. I’m also trying to get my house cleaned up and looking better for my own mental health and Christmas, of course.

I’m going to have a best of post going up tomorrow of my favorite Blogtober posts, plus my favorite posts from other bloggers. However, today, I wanted to go through some of my highlights from October. Let’s go!

1. Making These Cupcakes

Chai Spice Cupcakes
Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

So I just made these today, but oh my gosh, they turned out way better than I planned! I wanted to get some kind of skull or spider decoration for the top, but couldn’t find anything at the grocery store. They’d already cleaned out the Halloween stuff except the candy!! So I settled for a bag of candy corn and I’m glad I did; they turned out so, so cute! They are my usual spice cake recipe with chai steeped milk for regular milk, plus two tablespoons of molasses. They are for a potluck tomorrow at work and I’m so excited to take them!

2. Going to the Pumpkin Patch

It goes without saying that one of my highlight every single year is visiting the pumpkin patch. We love visiting our local farms every year. We went apple picking in September and to the pumpkin patch in October. It’s always a good year when we get both in! I wrote about visiting the pumpkin patch here.

3. Going to Sunriver

We took a short family trip to Sunriver right at the beginning of October that was somewhat anxiety-inducing for me (nothing like a 3-4 hour drive with a toddler alone to make you feel like a parent), but ended up being a really great time. It gave Danny and I a little bit of a break, plus we had lots and lots of fun.

Things I Love: October 20

Things I Love: October 20 | Writing Between Pauses

Well, it’s here. It’s arrived.

Today, I’m 30 years old.

When I was a teenager, 30 felt ancient. You always watch movies and it seems like by 30, most people have their shit together—and the people who don’t really, really, really do not have it together, but are actively working to get it together. Prime example? All the FRIENDS characters were in their mid-20s in the pilot episode (25-27, roughly).

Your 20s are supposed to be for finding yourself, getting it together, and setting yourself up for success in your 30s.

But what if you are staring down at being 30 and feel like you don’t have any of the pieces of your life just right?

I realize it sounds a little crazy for a parent to write that. Shouldn’t I, as the keeper of a small child, who depends on me, have it all figured out? Shouldn’t I have a plan?

The other day, I had a moment where I really, truly had a panic attack about turning 30. I can’t really put my finger on why I suddenly felt desperately, horribly afraid of turning 30. Most days, I spend my time on autopilot: I get my work done, I take care of Forrest, I make dinner, I clean the house top to bottom nearly every week. It feels like I’m stuck on a clock.

Writing this blog has been a huge way for me to keep “a bit of myself” as I descended into motherhood. Writing about beauty products and how I use them is freeing. And I want other mothers to feel free as well, to remember that it’s ok to take care of yourself alongside everyone else.

But on Sunday, I looked in the mirror and I thought, “I don’t know this person.”

I started reading blog posts and articles about turning 30, about being a mother, about self-care after 30 and realizing that my crisis isn’t specifically unique. But it is my own.

When I had Forrest, it felt like I was swallowed. Like “motherhood”—the big behemoth of motherhood—swallowed me up whole. For a long time, I didn’t really know who I was outside of being a mother. My days are dominated by Forrest and Forrest’s needs. I’m not resentful about it anymore; I’ve managed to regain a little bit of my foothold and feel like me.

But the woman I see in the mirror isn’t… me anymore. We all change as we age, but there is something about this change that feels particularly unwelcome. I don’t look older necessarily (I can thank my round face for that one), but i just don’t look like myself. I think this said it best, from an article called “What I Learned About Self-Care After 30”:

I was so consumed with being selfless that I never stopped to take care of myself, and it pretty much came to a head all at once.
I was nearing the end of my 20s when I looked in the mirror and barely recognized myself one day as I got out of the shower. I used to love doing face masks, getting my nails done, making sure my hair was cut, but most importantly, feeling good about myself and the way I presented myself to the world. That all had kinda stopped. Instead, I was staring back at a tired, overworked mom who hadn’t gotten a haircut in a whole year and couldn’t remember the last time she had a pedicure or even plucked her eyebrows. I felt horrible, and it pretty much got worse from there.

Remember how I mentioned that I hadn’t gotten a haircut in three whole years?

3 years! I went 3 years without a haircut! Without doing basic maintenance on myself.

I’m not quite as freaked out about turning 30 today as I was a few days ago. I’m still the same person I was then.

It is hard to compartmentalize my life: to be a blogger, a writer, a professional, and a mother. I am all of those things at once, but sometimes… well, most of the time, being a mother trumps them all. I will abandon blog posts, I will leave work early, all for my child. Because that’s my job. But is leaving myself last on the list—running myself ragged, not taking time to see my friends or do things I enjoy—part of that too?

It’s not. My goal for turning 30 is this: to start taking time to really focus on myself, to let myself become a person I recognize again, and to dedicate time to being the best mother, professional, and blogger I can be. Not just one.

Things I Want to Stop Doing

This is a bit of a different Things I Love isn’t it? I started out writing it fully intending to transition to my usual TiLT posts… but I’d rather leave it at this. I hope you all have a wonderful Saturday!

My April 2018 Wrap Up

April 2018 Wrap Up | Writing Between Pauses

April is... over!? 

You know how I said that March was a doozy of a month? Well, April arrived bigger and badder. I had a lot of ups this month and a lot of downs. I'm going to write this post a bit differently than I usually do for these wrap ups, because I have a lot to talk about!

A few years ago (after I had Fo really), I decided that I shared too much online about everything that happened in my life. It wasn't fair to Forrest to put so much of his life out there. And really, it wasn't fair to myself either. But as I've blogger more the past 6 months, I realized it is hard to draw the line between "hobby blogger professionally" and "being cold"! Does that make sense? 

I'm hoping to use these wrap ups as a chance to share a bit more about me and my life as a mother and professional. 

1. Big Blogging News

I've been blogging for ages, really, but it's only been in the past 2-3 months that I started getting fun "blog emails." I don't want to talk about this too much as it starts to feel a bit like an echo chamber (and to a non-blogger reading this, it is so boring to hear bloggers write about this so I apologize in advance). It's nice to feel like I'm finally achieving something because I do work on this blog a lot. 

There was also a Twitter thread recently that I added my thoughts onto (you can read it all here) and it really underscored for me the importance of blogging for a purpose. I love my blog, but my purpose here is to educate and inspire. I don't just want free stuff. I want to write content that others want to read and for me, that means taking myself (and my personal life) out of it. I'm here to review products, to provide advice, and to help people figure out what works as a mother or young professional, lover of makeup, or whatever! I'm not changing the world.

One sponsorship I'm really proud of this month is my collab with Smile Brilliant. I'm still hosting a giveaway from them, so if you haven't entered yet, click here

2. Motherhood Never Stops Being a Challenge

Without going into too much detail, the Friday before last, we had our first big medical scare with Forrest. He has had croup before, where we rushed him to the ER at about midnight. And he's been quite sick before. But on that Friday, he'd gotten pushed at the park (still not happy about it) and fallen forward with his arms outstretched. He seemed fine initially; we went home, he napped, and I tried to get work done. When he woke up though, he was inconsolable. Finally, I got out of him that he was hurt and he needed a doctor. I called our pediatrician and just as Danny got home from work, my pediatrician called me back personally and said, "Put him in the car and get him to me now please." (In case you're wondering, I love our pediatrician; she's absolutely wonderful and made time to check his arm.) She immediately saw he wasn't using his arm properly and wanted us to get x-rays. 

Cut to us running around the entire city of Eugene to find an x-ray tech that was open. We kept getting to places immediately after they had closed or being told that they don't do outpatient x-rays. We ended up driving across town and getting into an office after a nurse from the hospital called and begged a fellow x-ray tech to stay late. (Bless that nurse!) Forrest got his x-rays. He had to wear a tiny sling for a few days (which was a horrible challenge). On Monday, our pediatrician called to tell us his elbow wasn't broken (thank goodness), but severely sprained. Rest and time helped and his little "broken wing" is better now. But it was scary!

I always think I can handle, or anticipate, the challenges that happen. But that Friday, I was not expecting to spend several hours with a sweaty, sobbing toddler trying to get someone to x-ray his arm! 

3. Learning to Live Slow

I impulse bought this book at Target three weeks ago. Let me say: I feel like I've learned so much from it already. I've stopped to use one of the mini-journals it comes with, but I'm so excited to read more. This book is all about taking the time to really wind down and think, to live a little slower, and to stop stuffing our lives with activities and jobs in order to feel like we are always "busy." It's about really letting yourself feel your emotions. Even writing about it, I feel myself calming down!

I get chronic migraines and tension headaches; I've gotten tension headaches since I was 20, but the migraines are new, within the last two years, really. They aren't fun and at this point, I know they are caused by my stress and anxiety. I'm hoping this book can help me start alleviating some of the anxiety that I feel (that often leaves me either unable to stop working or paralyzed at the thought of starting a task). 

4. Other Bits

A lot of highs. A lot of lows. I feel like that's been the past few months. However, my hope for May is that I can go a month without a serious medical or home expense (I bought new tires and a new dishwasher in March; I had to also buy another new piece of car equipment in April; my savings account is crying). 

However, this past weekend, Danny and I went on a solo trip to Portland. It was really nice to be able to just spend time with him and not worry about anything else for a change! 

I have a lot of exciting blog posts coming up this month, as well as some really fun personal stuff. 

How was your April? Did you have a good month? 

Want to Write More? My 5 Tips to Get More Time

Want to Write More? My 5 Tips to Get More Time | Writing Between Pauses

There are lots of reasons we get too busy to write. Housework. Real jobs. Kids. Stress. The book that's calling your name that you need to finish. Social plans. If you love to write, writing is easy to push to the side.

Why? Because it's hard. Writing is hard! Let's just admit it!

Society tends to think of writing (in the broadest sense) to be absolutely easy. We all write every single day. Text messages, emails, tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram captions. We all write, so how hard is it, really, for someone to string enough sentences together for a book or a poem or a blog post? 

The truth is, writing is hard. Mentally, it's an exercise in patience to try to squeeze what you see in your brain out onto the page. And physically, it can be challenging; you're in one place for a very long time, with 100 distractions, having to concentrate very hard and type. 

Honestly, why do any of us do this? 

So, you've come to the conclusion: you want, no, you need, to write more. It's paramount. But you've got a toddler, or you've got a full time job, or you've got a million other things on your plate and that great idea you had for a short story or a poem has been languishing for so long that the spark of inspiration isn't just a dying ember, but a little piece of charcoal. 

Here are my five tips to sneak in writing. 

1. Say it out loud

Oh yeah, you heard me. Writing: it's about sitting with a notebook or a computer and getting it out on the page. Or is it? What's to stop you from recording voice memos on your phone of lines you think of while you're in the grocery store, or waiting in the pick up line at school? Record it, save it, and return to it later when you have more than 30 seconds. 

2. Carry the notebook

This is, truly, every writer's least favorite tip, but it's true: carry the notebook with you. Honestly, just carry it. It feels pretentious, to have that little notebook in your purse or in your back pocket, but when you're waiting for coffee and get an idea--you'll think me. You'll have somewhere to put it. 

(If you don't love tiny notebooks, you can also use the Notes app on your iPhone or equivalent smartphone.) 

3. Get up earlier

The birds are singing, the sun is starting to rise earlier than before. You have more daylight hours. So why sleep through them? Waking up at 5 or 5:30 isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you don't leave for work until 8:30, then why not spend an hour in the morning writing? Isn't that an extra hour in your day to achieve something you really, really want? 

4. Maximize the time you do have

You set aside an hour or two in the evening to write. But some nights, you spend it watching TV, browsing Twitter, or doing something else. You know you need to write, but the couch is so comfy. 

Listen, routine is everything when it comes to developing habits. If you actually want to spend the time your kids are in bed, or you don't have work responsibilities rearing their heads, then you actually have to make the habit. So, even though the couch is comfy, fix your favorite drink and head to the computer. (Just make sure your drink is on a coaster far away from your keyboard!) 

5. Ask for Time

You have a roommate who watches TV while you do the dishes, or a husband that starts working again right when he gets home. You want time to write, but you find yourself picking up the slack of others. Let me tell you: that's not going to work. Ask for the time. It's easy. "Honey, I would like an hour to go get some writing done. Can you watch the kids?" or "Hey, can you finish these dishes so I can go finish up something I'm working on?" takes 5 seconds. If asking doesn't work, demand it. "I need an hour!" you will say, going into your office and closing the door. 

If the toddler destroys the living room, you'll deal with it later. 

More Posts on Writing

How to Write Every Single Day

How to Write Every Single Day | Writing Between Pauses

Recently, I wrote about what I learned from taking on three solid months of writing challenges (you can read about it here). I also recently wrote about staying creative as an exhausted, busy mom (you can read that one here). 

You might be wondering: how will this post be any different from what one about being an exhausted mom? 

Well, I think there are a few key differences. There is a difference between making time to use your brain creatively and actively trying to write (a great amount of text) every single day. Plain and simple, that's the difference: when I first had Forrest, I had to find ways to keep myself creative, whether that meant writing or reading while I pumped or simply creating in ways that were different from before. (Again you can read that post here.) Now, when I expect myself to write consistently every single day, there are other methods I undertake--things that not just moms will relate to, but everyone who seeks to write a high volume. 

So, who is this post for? 

  • Are you a blogger who wants to produce more content? 
  • Are you an aspiring author who wants to finish a novel or hit an important deadline? 
  • Are you a writing hobbyist who just wants to get into the practice of writing even when you feel like you have nothing to say? 
  • Are you someone who isn't sure if you would enjoy writing, but like the idea of it? 

Basically: if you want to write more, I want to help you find ways to write more. Every day, actually. I want to help you find time, and discipline, to write every single day. 

The Obstacles

We've all seen the joke tweets, like this one (that isn't specifically about writing, but you get the drift). 

Does that sound familiar? Sitting down to write and instead finding yourself browsing Amazon, reading the news, browsing Twitter. I think it's fairly typical. We're all prone to distraction, especially when we aren't feel particularly inspired. 

What are some other obstacles we face, as bloggers, dedicated writers, or hobbyists? (I consider myself all three, in case you are wondering!) 

  • Distractions
  • Discipline
  • Time
  • Inspiration

How do we overcome them? 

Cutting Distractions

Every year during NaNoWriMo, this is truly my biggest obstacle; when I'm staring down a deadline, I'm definitely a flight kinda gal (instead of a fight). When the going gets tough, I get going, if you catch my drift. When a scene gets particularly sticky or I just find the scene I have to write dreadfully boring... I get distracted, I read the news, I send out a few tweets, I scroll through my Facebook groups, I change my music...

You get my drift. How can we cut out those distractions? 

  1. Turn off your internet. I'm not kidding. Turn it off!
     
  2. Use pen & paper. Is it slower than typing? Yes. Are you less apt to be distracted? Yes.  
     
  3. Download apps that restrict your websites. These apps are pretty popular among writers (just Google it); they allow you to block websites from yourself for a specific period of time. So that hour you plan to get some writing done? You can block social media websites, news sites, and more. And once the hour is up, it undoes itself. 
     
  4. Set a timer. And I'm not talking a timer for an hour, or however long you planned to write. Set a time for 10 minutes, stand up, stretch, and take a break. Then set it again. 

It all seems convoluted, but you won't be doing these things forever. Once you get yourself into a good pattern, you can slowly give yourself more freedom; you can start checking Twitter and then getting back to writing, because you'll have more focus.

Finding Inspiration

What are you writing about? Right now, I mean. What's the thing that's making you want to put pen to paper? 

Is it a blog post about writing every day? (I'll admit, I've taken 10 breaks writing this post already!) Is it a story you've been thinking of for years? Or do you just want to start writing essays, or poems, or short stories? 

Get Inspired | Writing Between Pauses

Finding inspiration to write every single day can be hard. Sometimes, you just won't want to work on the novel you've been plugging along with for years, or the short story that you really loved at first, but now hate to think about. Sometimes, you just won't be inspired. 

So what do I do in those moments? I turn to my handy-dandy notebook. I keep a small, pocket size notebook wth me at all times and I keep a running list of things I see throughout the day that I want to write about. Here are a few examples: 

  • The hunger of creativity
  • Dystopian society (World War Z style) 
  • A man in a flannel pushing an old woman in a wheelchair

Those are just fragments of things I think about, or see, or read about throughout the day. Things that spark a little flame of creativity, but I don't have time to explore in depth. When I don't feel like working on something permanent, or a blog post, I write in my notebook about one of my topics. I spin a yarn about someone I see. Or I write further on a topic I've been mulling over. 

Inspiration can be found everywhere. If you journey out into the world throughout the day (even digitally--you can write about a tweet you found funny, like this one, or an article you read), you have things you can at least free write about. The more you write, the more you'll be able to write. (Trust me when I say, it's all about getting into a rhythm.) In getting into this kind of creative rhythm, you'll find the discipline you thought you previously lacked. (This is basically building a habit.) 

Making Time

Now, you might be asking, when do I have time to do all this? 

You don't have to be writing for hours and hours. On average, I would say I write maybe 1-2 hours every evening... but that doesn't count all the writing I do at work (an average of 6-8 hours of pure writing and creating content at work, plus writing blog posts and social media for this little side hustle of mine). I write a lot. You don't have to write that much, I promise! 

Making Time | Writing Between Pauses

Dedicate the time you have. If you only have 30 minutes to spare in your busy day, then that's what you have. Spend those 30 minutes writing. If you want to develop a habit of writing, making time (even when you really don't want or you want to do other things) is extremely important. And it's really not as difficult as it sounds. You don't have to write in one solid chunk. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Write in your notebook during your lunch break or between classes. 
     
  • Write while you cook dinner, or make notes on something you want to write about during dinner. 
     
  • Write while watching a movie or your favorite TV show. 
     
  • Write on the bus or train. 

If you take opportunities to write throughout the day (or at least read and use your brain creatively), you're much more likely to continue the habit of writing when you actually want to get work done. 

What's Next? 

Start writing! You can't start a habit in one day; it's something you have to work at consistently. Once you get a good habit in place, you can modify it, drop certain things, and focus on creating something big.