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.