How I Wrote Two Books with Five Kids
When friends of mine hear that I published two books in the span of five years (some of which were during a pandemic!) while simultaneously raising five children, they are often curious to hear how I accomplished it. I am quick to assure them that the five techniques I used to maximize my time can be used by anyone and applied to find success in any area of life.
- Verbalize What You Want
Words have immense power. When Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that he would accept Crypto currency, the Crypto stock immediately skyrocketed! His words alone held enough power to change the economy.
While our own words may not send the market into a tailspin, they do still hold tremendous potential for generating change.
My mother was the real impetus behind my journey as a writer. She was the first person who verbalized the words, “Sarah, you should write a book.” While at first those words sounded impossible, upon further reflection I replied, “Yes, I would like to do that one day.”
This was the first time I was able to safely express what I truly wanted, making a distant dream seem a little more like a reality. In that one pivotal moment, I gave voice to my desires, even if I didn’t fully believe them yet. By putting words to our internal goals, we give them power. Subconsciously, we inform our brains that what we want holds importance and possibility.
In Hebrew, the word for object is davar, which shares the same root as the word speech, dibbur. God created the world through speech. When He said the word light, those words were enough to bring light into being. Although we can’t make an apple appear in our hands just by saying it, our words also have the power to create in a different way. Humans create businesses and invent new concepts by communicating with one another. We have the power to manifest what we want through speech.
But speaking about our ideas is not enough. The next step is key in bringing that vision to fruition.
2. Commit to Ten Minutes a Day
At a job interview once, I was asked what my goal was in ten years. I replied that I would love to write a book. The follow up question was, and how will you achieve this? My response was that I would write for ten minutes every day.
In the end, I was offered the position, and two years later my first book was published!
With five young children at home, there is little time for me to write an article, let alone an entire book! And even ten minutes can be challenging to commit to (I am currently typing this sentence on Erev Shabbos with a timer set for 10 minutes!). But somehow I was able to keep producing more articles and chapters week after week. Ten minutes may seem trivial, but in the end those minutes add up and have infinite potential.
Have a few minutes in the carpool line? Instead of scrolling through Facebook, try allocating those minutes to a goal you are working toward. I put Google docs on my phone instead of social media, so a few minutes in line at the grocery store can become time spent jotting down ideas for my next chapter.
I once came across the story of an artist who sold a single piece of digital art for $70 million dollars. He explained that many years ago, he decided to spend ten minutes a day working on his art and improving his skills. Even when he wasn’t in the mood or was running short on time, he made good on his promise and generated a new piece of art every single day. Fast forward years later and that expensive piece of digital artwork? It was actually a composite of all his years’ worth of daily artwork compiled into a single, incredible piece of art, representing his unrelenting commitment to achieve his goal no matter what.
Everyone has ten minutes a day to devote to something. Each moment is precious and will accumulate over time more quickly than we realize.
What will you use your 10 minutes for?
3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
When I gave birth to my youngest in the middle of the global pandemic, my motto was “all hands on deck!” I recognized the need for help and was quick to ask for it.
We all need our sanity, and no one can be expected to be “on” 24/7. Asking for help should not carry any stigma, and that help can come in different forms depending on your needs, including cleaning help, child care, editing work, or mental health. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and absolutely essential in order to achieve anything worthwhile.
Delegate whenever possible and find people you can rely on. For me this meant recognizing that my book would not be possible without help from others, including writing groups and of course the amazing book publishers and editors without whom no book would have been possible (thank you Targum and Feldheim!).
4. Say “No” a Lot!
Learning to say “no” is a very important skill when it comes to achieving your goals. When I receive speaking requests, I am very particular about what I say yes to. Even though I want to teach as much as possible, turning down certain opportunities is necessary if I have a larger goal in mind.
When my oldest child was very young and had an early bedtime, I could easily slip out at night to give a class. As he got older and our family grew, it became necessary for me to cut back on my speaking engagements. Since I was not comfortable with video broadcasting or social media, I began brainstorming how I could continue to share Torah. That is how I began my writing career, which ended up being a blessing in disguise.
None of us have time for everything, and that is why it is important to carefully choose where you place your energy.
5. Recognize when it’s Enough
There is a famous saying that perfection is the enemy of done. The truth is, perfection doesn’t exist and nothing will ever be perfect. Recognizing this allowed me to finally publish my first book, after months of agonizing if the chapters were edited enough, if the cover was good enough, if the ideas were inspiring enough. I ultimately titled my second book “Is it Ever Enough” because I truly believe being able to say enough is the antidote to the lie of perfection. You may observe the image of perfection scrolling through advertisements and Instagram posts, but the truth is, that is all a ruse.
There is no such thing as a perfect title, a perfect book, or a perfect anything.
Whenever I try to write the first draft of any article that I know will be read by others, I get stuck. But when I just write from my heart, and the writing is only for me, that’s when the real creativity flows. Of course much time is spent editing each piece, but the initial release of creativity is dependent upon imperfection.
Releasing the desire for perfection is like lifting a heavy burden that we didn’t know we were shouldering. When the shackles of perfection are loosened, we become happier, more creative individuals.
By using the five lessons above, we can all take the next steps toward actualizing our full potential and achieving our loftiest goals.