Friday, October 11, 2013

The Balancing Act

A while back I asked people for topics to blog about it. This was hands down the number one suggestion: How do you balance a writing career when you already have a career or family(or both)?

And I'll be honest, I put this post off hoping the answer would come to me in some brilliant form. I'd be able to sit down at the computer and pour out wisdom and writers everywhere would weep in joy now that the mystery was finally solved.

Of course, that didn't happen.

But while I waiting, I did all the things I normally do and a few new things:
I volunteered.
Girl Scouts.
I taught dance and theater.
I had and dealt with a huge family crisis.
Wanted to crawl under the blankets and never come out. 
Had a second crisis for my kid.
Got strong and found myself. 
Fell down and got hurt.
I was a mother.
I was a wife.
I was a chef, baker, chauffeur, nurse, psychiatrist, maid, math maven, English professor, French student, and a damn good cuddler.
I built a website.
I edited.
I blogged.
I read.
I wrote words.

I even managed a little time for working out and sleeping. Sound familiar?

But now that I look at that list and realize all that happened in the last two weeks I can't help but think, how?

Two things. Neither are glamorous or mind-blowing. Neither will win me the genius cap. Neither are rocket science.

1. Organization.
2. Discipline.

Yep. That's my big secret. And maybe it helps that I'm mildly OCD, I don't know. But I will tell you, I have everything written in a planner. My blog posts, my 'regular' stuff, I even write my meals in there so that one, I remember and two, I can mark them off my list. And yes, I put my writing and revision times on there. I list my editing clients and work schedule. I put in workout, time with kids, make Sunday treat. And I happily put in the word read on there.

But even though my calendar is beautiful and a rainbow of Sharpies and highlighters of which only I know the code, it takes more than writing it down. And it has its drawbacks when I'm super busy, because it leaves little time for spontaneity or crisis. But without a plan, I flounder. I know it's different for everyone, but if I have all the things to do and no plan to get them done, I usually do none of it. I look around and think, "Where do I start? Oh, watching a movie is a good place to start."

Which brings us to number two. All the organization in the world will only get you so far. You have to have the discipline to follow through and stick to the schedule you've set.

And right now, I know you're thinking, but I just don't have the time!

Fair. And I hear you. But let me ask you a question. If you did have time, would you use it to write or would you take that extra time and do other things with it? If you didn't have to balance another career, would you take the 8-5 slot you work now and devote it to your writing? Or would you do all the other things and still complain at the end of the day you didn't have time?

I think the biggest decision you have to make is that your writing is real to you. That your writing is worth it. That it IS going to be your career. Then once you make that decision, it will become important enough to make time for.

And that's the key, and maybe the wisdom did come pouring out just then. Decide to put your writing on your priority list and you'll find time to make it a priority. So i guess it's not so much a balance as putting it on the scale to begin with.

So this week, give yourself an hour each day. Even if only ten words come, it's okay. But, and here's the lesson I think we could all learn, don't talk yourself out of the value of your words. If you want it, make time. Work for it. If the story is inside you, it's worth hearing. So make time to tell it to the world.

See you Monday!

Obligatory hot guy pic:


  1. Yep, totally agree with you again. Another thing that I find helpful is having a space that is just mine for writing. I just set it up but it has been amazingly helpful! I told my family that it's my space and not to touch it. I go to my desk and something about that shifts my thinking and I start pounding out words. It's awesome!

    1. I know what you mean! Since I got set up my 'office' my productivity has gone through the roof!

  2. Ah a great post. And I feel inspired to make a schedule!

    1. Yay! Then my work here is done...until next Friday.