Juggling for Writers

Balance. It’s a topic I’ve blogged about before. More than once, actually. It’s a topic worth blogging about again. Why? Because some comments I received on my last blog post reminded me that balance is a topic that is vitally important. If you didn’t read my last post, I talked about the importance of having a blog or website as part of your author platform. My readers reminded me how difficult it is to do all the things we have to do and be able to make time to write.

Balance is always, always, always going to be an issue for every single one of us. Very few of us are exclusively writers. We’re also parents, children, spouses, and employees. We all have other responsibilities. It’s hard to juggle everything without sometimes dropping at least one ball. Though there are times we might be able to juggle all our various responsibilities, eventually our arms are going to get tired. Balance isn’t just about doing everything we have to do, it’s about also finding time to do the things we want to do.

Even if you don’t have a job or a spouse or kids or family, you’re still a human being. You need to nurture your body and mind. You still need to find balance. And, there will still be times you either can’t find the time to write, or you feel guilty for not writing enough.

Guilt is a huge issue for me. I feel guilty for being on Facebook when I should be writing. I feel guilty for writing when I should be bringing our household up to minimum standards of cleanliness. I feel guilty for watching television when I should be marketing my book. Even when I am doing something productive, I feel guilty for not being the best mom, wife, housekeeper, bread-winner, author, or friend.

If you’re rapidly scanning  this blog post looking for a magic cure to all your balance problems, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There is no right answer. There’s no perfect schedule for you to follow. There will always be conflicts in your life and you will constantly have to readjust your priorities and juggle your hopes, dreams, and responsibilities.

But, wait! I won’t send you away empty-handed. I do have something to give you.

Permission.

I’m giving you permission NOT to feel guilty. Permission to ignore the bloggers who tell you it’s necessary to write every single day in order to be a real writer. Permission to ignore the experts who say you must commit a certain number of hours to marketing. Permission to order pizza because you’re finally in the zone with your writing and you don’t want to stop to make dinner. Permission to take care of your own health without feeling guilty about going for two weeks without writing a single word.

This doesn’t mean giving up on your dream or wallowing in excuses. If you want to be a writer, you’re still going to have to write. But, if you’re working a full time job, coaching a football team, waking up in the middle of the night with an infant, and checking in on an elderly relative every day after work, you probably won’t be able to devote as much time to writing as someone with a less demanding schedule. Does that make you less of a writer? No.

Squeeze your writing in when you can. If you commit to a deadline, be sure to add in a little wiggle room because you never know what life might throw at you. Adjust and readjust your schedule as necessary. And, most importantly, take time out to do the things that give you joy–without feeling guilty–because, if you don’t, you haven’t achieved balance.

Balance means finding a happy place where you’re able to do most of the things you need to do WHILE still finding time to do some of the things you want to do WHILE still finding time to rest, relax, and recharge.

Simple, right? Nope. Nothing worth having is ever easy. Finding that elusive balance is tough, but worth fighting for. We can do it.

If you have any suggestions, tips, or advice on how to find balance, leave a comment. Or, if you’re stressed to the max with all the things you have to do, leave a comment. Vent. Let it all out. I’ll give you permission to slack off on writing/ housework/ whatever. This is a guilt-free zone.

26 thoughts on “Juggling for Writers

  1. This writing thing has given my family the opportunity to consider which Subway in town is better than the others. If Jared can do it, so can they!

    But what I really can’t stand are the jackwipes who act like you aren’t a real writer if you are not blogging twice a day. I might write a lot using pen and paper, but that’s my business not theirs and I don’t feel like being pressured to put it all up so some idiot can say, “Good girl! You are a writer!” Say hello to my middle finger!

    Thank you for the vent space, Tricia 🙂

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  2. This is a cracking article and so true. If someone is ill or you get I’ll or if a friend needs help and you’re there who gives a shit I’f you book is late. Being a writer is about quality of output, not quantity…

    Cheers

    MTM

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  3. I struggle with this constantly. I recently moved and decided to devote more time to writing rather than looking for another job right away. Some days it’s total bliss but most days I have tremendous guilt about not contributing more financially and about leaving dirty dishes in the sink even though, technically, I’m home all day. Things like that drive me toward this extreme dedication that doesn’t leave room for anything remotely recreational. All I can think about is making the most of this time off, which has been great for my productivity. But I’ll admit, sometimes my brain needs a break and I just crack the whip and tell it to keep going. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

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    • No! Don’t be hard on yourself! You have my permission to take a break. If anyone questions you, just refer them to this blog. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone (or anything) else.

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  4. Loved this post, Tricia! You just described me to a T. I often say I’m prone to guilt – if it’s not one thing, it’s another. I guess I’m lucky in that, most days, I get about an hour to write, but the problem is that I always feel like it’s never enough. Nothing ever feels like it’s enough, actually. And I’m sure my schedule will only get worse before it gets better! I just have to remember to take things a day at a time because, someday, I’ll have that unlimited free time to write again. 🙂

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    • For those of us with kids at home, there’s always something that takes priority over our writing, or even our sleep. Schedules are constantly having to be readjusted. One day we’ll both have unlimited time to write, but until then, we’ll just have to do the best we can. Keep writing!

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  5. Wonderful post–thank you. I think about the whole balance issue a lot–and my desire for balance wrestles with my guilt over “not working hard enough” or “not marketing enough” or whatever the guilt voice for the day is. With time and practice, I’m getting better at doing the balance thing–and just trying to be present to whatever I’m doing (be that writing, working the day job, blogging, reading, cleaning the house, cooking, exercising, resting, hanging with family or friends) instead of listening to the guilt voices that say I should be doing one of the other things.

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    • I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who feels guilty even when I’m being productive. With so many things to do, I’m always wondering if some neglected task should take precedence over what I’m already doing.

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  6. This post was right up my alley. I have been having trouble balancing my writing, blogging and everything else. I’ve just started blogging, and haven’t found the time for an every day post. Was beginning to wonder if I was doing myself a disfavor. I’m sure I’ll get my balancing act together as time passes, but til then glad to know there’s nothing to feel guilty about.

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  7. Funnily enough, since the death of my father, I’ve never written so much. Possibly because I needed to vent my grief, I wrote more poetry than I’ve ever written before. Strange what brings out the writer in you.

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  8. Thanks so much for this Tricia. I love reading your posts as they always encourage me and yes, inspire me! When I started my blog in January I didn’t have much idea as to what I was going to blog about! Being able to write about my dad (alcoholic, in prison) and my daugther’s struggle with Asperger’s Syndrome has given me a voice and an expression that I thought was completely silent.
    The community I have gained, learned from, interacted with, and the new friends I have made since then has been overwhelming. I had no idea what wonderful people there were/are out there, people like yourself, who are so kind to share their journeys, their knowledge and their advice. A writer’s community I had no idea existed!
    The only problem is that in all these past 7 months since blogging, I have written absolutely nothing for my book! Guilt? Everyday. But not here, not at this precise moment as I type this comment. Although the ever-growing pile of ironing is really starting to annoy me 😉

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    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Sherri. Yes, community has been the best thing about blogging and writing. I’ve met the best people ever! Keep writing (when you can) because it sounds like you have personal stories that much be told. You’ve probably helped other people you don’t even know about. Writing is the ultimate way to connect with others. You’ll get back to your book when the time is right. Yesterday was the first day I wrote something original in months. I’ve spent too much time editing, rewriting, and procrastinating. But, no guilt. Not today.

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  9. Great post and so true. balance is key…I’m yet to find it though. I find myself constantly chasing my tail and feeling guilty for not being able to be everywhere at once. My time keeping and pacing is dreadful, so when I get round to doing things I spend too much time or not enough. Juggling demanding jobs and lives with writing is very tricky at times that’s for sure! 😛

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