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Balance

I’m a writer.

I want to be a published author.

The last year and a half of my life has been dedicated to making the second statement happen.

Sounds good, right? I have the luxury of staying home with my kids so it was relatively easy to announce I was becoming a full time writer. “This is my job,” I told my kids. “I just do it at home. If I work hard enough, one day I will get paid.”

And so I worked hard.

I worked for hours in the morning, afternoon, evening and into the night. I rarely took a day off. If I went a day without writing or editing I felt guilty. Deep in my gut, I knew this wasn’t good. There were days I could have spent with my kids that I sat in front of a laptop. Times I was invited by non-writing friends to go out for coffee, or lunch and I hesitated to say yes. I stopped watching so much tv, cut the time I spent reading, gave up hobbies, because that’s what writers are told, right? Butt in chair. Nothing happens if our butt isn’t in a chair. And I want something to happen.

But I heard a voice in the back of mind whisper, “This isn’t right; life is passing you by.” Instinctively, I knew that to write about life and people, I had to experience life and other people. But I told myself, after I finish this first draft, revision, edit, fill in the blank. When I ended the latest project, then I would scale back.

And then the next project came. In fifteen months, I have written five completed manuscripts. (One is a trunk novel, two are edited and revised since editing, two are waiting to be edited.) I think I’ve proved I have dedication. I think I’ve proven I’m capable.

So when I heard Sara Zarr’s keynote speech at SWBCI Winter Conference in New York City on Sunday, her words resonated with what I’d been feeling. I needed more balance in my life.

And so it begins. Bring out the hated schedule.

Yes, free-flowing, spontaneous me is creating a schedule. It’s still a work in progress (ha! get the writer pun?) but I’m scheduling writing time — the afternoons my little ones are in preschool and 9 pm until 1 am — time for doing housework (so I don’t become completely overwhelmed by it,) time for emails and twitter. I’m leaving chunks of time in the afternoon and evening for my kids, so we can spend time together and I won’t be sucked into the world of my laptop.

I’ve also vowed to read 52 books in 2011. I’m a little behind with having only read three, but I’m taking the next couple of weeks off from writing and revising to read (and critique.) I plan to make a list of the books I’ve read to keep me accountable. I always feel inspired and invigorated after reading, how better to keep the joy of writing burning?

And that’s the key to it all–the purpose of finding balance– to keep my joy burning. The joy of writing, the joy of growing, the joy of living.

Because if I spend all my life in front of a laptop, I’m not living it.

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8 Comments on "Balance"

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Alicia Dean
Guest

Great post, Denise. You seem to have the opposite problem of many writers, myself included, and that is devoting time to writing, rather than letting other things like errands, housework, other projects, and people, get in the way. You hit the nail on the head. Balance is the key. Thanks for sharing and good luck with your schedule.

Eisley Jacobs
Guest

I could have written this post.. And probably will write one similar ;)

Hooray for schedules… I think :)

Alta -
Guest

When I started writing, I made sure there was one day off. I don’t write on Sundays. I might crit. I sneak in some reading time. Or even craft, but not write.
This makes Mondays exciting for me writing wise. I’m eager to get back to it. To pick up where I left off.
Good luck with your new schedule, I hope it works out for you!

Paris Brandon
Guest

Denise, great post and very timely. I’ve finally had to give myself a cut-off time to stop, turn off the computer and spend time with family and friends or do something as simple as reading something from my TBR pile! You are so right, balance is the key:)

Tessa McDermid
Guest

Excellent post, Denise. I’m still learning the same lesson. One thing that helps is I color-code my weekly calendar and I can see how much balance I have. I also schedule in one day for catching up on paperwork and anything else that comes up. If time, I can reward myself with writing .

I’d also suggest a weekly Author’s Date – from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Two hours every week to fill your well. Sometimes when the boys were little, that was the only time I ended up ‘living’ versus writing.

Judy
Guest

Awesome and soo true. Balance is so important even with hubbys. They need time too. My issue here is he’s a doer too and will get lost in his office while I get lost in mine. And it’s so easy to even lose one another. We all need ‘snuggle time.’
Good blog Keep reminding us
J

Trisha Leigh
Guest

Love this post. You can do it, we’ll help each other stay on track. Plus, there are SO MANY books (and TV shows) I want you to watch!

Laura Howard
Guest

This is a great thing, I hope some day I’ll be able to nail down a schedule..how’s it going for you? I’m not being sarcastic..lol I mean it?

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