By Donna Clark Goodrich-
Sixty-five million (29 percent of) Americans are caregivers, spending an average of 20 hours a week caring for a loved one. Perhaps you’re one of them. The demands are often so great, you wonder how you can ever have time to write.
I’ve been a caregiver since 1984 when my husband retired at the age of 48 after a massive heart attack. I also helped care for my stepdad and elderly uncle until their deaths, and am now helping my widowed sister who’s losing her eyesight. During that time I’ve published nine books, along with articles and short stories.
Here are some hints that may help a writing caregiver:
1. Write when you can. Seldom can caregiver writers rely on having a whole day to write. But if possible, get up 15 minutes earlier or stay up 15 minutes later. Fifteen minutes a day, five days a week, adds up to sixty-five hours a year — and that’s a lot of extra time to write. Write when your loved one is taking a nap. Use the time you spend waiting in line at the supermarket to read the titles on magazine covers to see what type of articles they use on a regular basis. Watch and listen to the people around you. (This is a good idea in a doctor’s office too.)
Don’t complain if you don’t have time to write. I moaned about this fact after my husband had an especiallybad year healthwise, and I sensed a quiet voice within saying, “Someday you’ll have all the time you want, and you won’t want it.”
2. Write where you can. I’ve written and edited in doctors’ offices. The ICU my husband was in over Christmas one year had a built-in desk in the corner, giving me a place to work. If you can find a family member or friend to relieve you one or two hours a week, take your laptop to the public library or a nearby restaurant.
3. Write any way you can. Flying out-of-state to care for my mother after her cancer surgery, I handwrote three short stories on the plane, typing them up when I got to my hometown. When I returned home eight weeks later, I found checks waiting. Up until that time I felt I had to be at my keyboard to write.
4. Write what you can. Use your caregiver experiences as springboards for short stories, articles, or books. I wrote one article titled “Living with a Disabled Husband” (later re-titled “When Your Golden Years Aren’t Golden”) which has sold a number of times in religious and secular publications. My book The Freedom of Letting Go contains a chapter on letting go of health issues that includes caregiver stories, and I’m now working on a book for caregivers.
Sharing your experiences and what you’ve learned through caregiving can help a lot of readers as they know that you’ve been there, done that.
5. Take notes. If you simply cannot find the time to write, at least jot down ideas and outlines. Then when those precious free moments appear, you won’t find yourself staring at a blank screen.
Being a caregiver doesn’t mean you have to give up writing which can lead to resentment. It just means you use your time wisely. Taking time to do what you feel called to do and what you enjoy doing will make you a more loving caregiver — and a more insightful writer.
BIO – Donna Clark Goodrich, Mesa, Arizona, is the author of 24 books and over 700 published manuscripts, including A Step in the Write Direction: the Complete How-to Guide for Christian Writers. She is also a freelance proofreader and editor.
Unfortunately, Donna’s husband passed away on March 7, 2015. Our deepest condolences, Donna. So sorry to hear of your loss. Take care.