by Bradeigh Godfrey

This isn’t going to be an article with practical tips about carving out time to write (“get up at five AM”) or tricks on cranking out words (“set small, reasonable goals”). This is my unfiltered, honest advice about how to write a book when your schedule is already packed with work, raising children, and other responsibilities. My qualifications? I’m a practicing physician with four kids—so I definitely don’t have time to write—and I’ve had four books published in two years. If you, like me, feel called to write a book even though you’re already overwhelmed and exhausted, here’s how to do it.

1. Stop Whining

If something matters to you, make time for it. No more excuses and no more wishing that you could magically have five uninterrupted days per week to write. You can write a book in a year by writing almost every day for about an hour. This will require focus, dedication, and consistency but it is absolutely possible. Where and when you find that hour is up to you, but you will need to…

2. Be Selfish

For years I wrestled with guilt whenever I spent time writing, especially when I wasn’t earning any money with it yet. It can feel pointless or even delusional to spend time on something that “doesn’t really matter” when you’re already so busy. But it does matter. As Steven Pressfield wrote, “Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention…. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” To do that, you must learn to…

3. Lower your standards

Since you don’t have time to write, if you choose to write anyway, you’ll have less time for your other obligations. The trick is to determine which responsibilities matter enough to be given an A+ effort, and which can be given a B+ or even a C- effort. It’s okay if laundry piles up, if your lawn is full of weeds or your family eats takeout more than you’d like. This doesn’t mean expecting someone else to take on all your burdens, and it doesn’t mean ignoring people you care about, but it does mean making an honest appraisal of what you can let go—which means you might need to…

4. Neglect Your Hobbies

You’re already too busy, so you’ll need to take a hard look at how you spend your time. This might mean you drop the video games, stop scrolling social media, or cut out the reality TV binge-watching. You shouldn’t abandon everything that brings you joy or relaxation, but you will need to be intentional about determining your priorities to make time to write. (Note: don’t drop your hobby of reading—you’ll need to be a reader if you want to be a writer. And definitely don’t cut out sleep). Still, you might sometimes need to…

5. Ignore Your Children

This is a special note to the parents out there, especially mothers of young children. Your kids will be fine if you don’t give them all your attention all the time. You can put on Bluey and sit next to your preschooler and write while they watch; you can take your kids to the park and write while they play; you can even pay for babysitting or leave your children with your spouse or another trusted adult while you write. I’m not advocating for being neglectful or unsafe, but I AM advocating for dropping the guilt and allowing your children to watch you work hard at something you’re passionate about. Carl Jung believed that the greatest burden a child can bear is the unlived life of their parents. So live your life, pursue your dreams, and let your kids see that it’s possible. However, this means you’ll have to…

6. Embrace the suck

This mantra is used in the military and while I doubt your writing will lead to as much physical adversity as Navy SEAL training, it can still really, really suck sometimes. Become comfortable with the shitty first draft. Get cozy with rejection and tough feedback. Keep your ass in the chair and put words on the page, day in and day out, even when you’re not feeling inspired or excited. Much of the time, writing sucks. Embrace that. But one final note:

7. Give yourself a break

Working a challenging job and raising a family while also trying to make my way as a writer is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It’s even harder if you’re a single parent, if you work two or more jobs to make ends meet, if you have a disability or a chronic health condition (physical or mental), or if you’re facing systemic issues like racism, homophobia, or transphobia. Give yourself credit for all the good work you’re doing. Remind yourself that your creativity deserves to be nurtured. Your writing matters, your story matters, so even if you don’t have time: write the damn book.


Bradeigh Godfrey is a physician, mom, and author of psychological thrillers. Her debut, IMPOSTER, came out last year, and her second thriller, THE FOLLOWERS, releases on August 29 from Blackstone Publishing. She also co-writes romantic women’s fiction under the pen name Ali Brady and has published two books with Berkley (Penguin Random House), THE BEACH TRAP and THE COMEBACK SUMMER.