Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Balancing Act

by MarcyKate Connolly

Most writers are not able to write full time. Most of us need to work a regular job in order to make a living, eat, have a roof over our heads, etc.

This can often lead to conflict in our daily lives. We need to go to work and do our jobs, whether they may be mundane or fun or a little bit of both, so we can support our writing habit. But sometimes the drive to do what we love, not what we must, can get in the way.

We want to write, but we need to work. If only writing could be our work ... So goes that slippery slope. Sound familiar?

It’s all too easy for our lives to lean too far in one direction and make us feel off-kilter and unhappy. Major work projects can take over our lives, making it seem like we’ll never get back to writing again. Never finish that project into which we’ve been pouring our souls.

Lack of balance can lead all too quickly to discouragement.

So, as the creative folks we are, we have to find ways to put things back in balance. Personally, I like to write on my commute since I have a half-hour train ride. That’s an hour of writing time each day that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I know others get up crazy early or never sleep (ahem, GUILTY) just so they can have a few more minutes living in their story-worlds.

Of course, this is not always easy. Sometimes, work or family or other real life demands are such that we just can’t devote that time on our commutes or lunch breaks or wee hours of the morning to writing. Lately I’ve found myself both working on the train and staying up late just in an attempt to get back on track from a project that massively derailed earlier this month.

Basically, life happens.

So if life happens to you in ways that make it difficult (or even nearly impossible) to get to your writing, don’t beat yourself up too much. I know we all hear the adage that writers must write every day (and in an ideal world, wouldn’t that be lovely?), but sometimes you need to set other things right before they can be balanced again. Sometimes you just have to take that time away, then come back refreshed, rejuvenated, and relieved to have your writing to transport you during that commute or lunch hour.

Maybe you’ll even appreciate it a little more than you did before.

How do you keep your writing life in balance with real life demands? Feel free to leave your tips in the comments!

MarcyKate Connolly writes young adult fiction and becomes a superhero when sufficiently caffeinated. When earthbound, she blogs at her website and ferrets out contests on Twitter.


Stina Lindenblatt said...

When my kids were home full time, I used to get up at 4:30 am to write. Unfortunately, I went to bed at 11 pm, which explains why I was a zombie by mid afternoon. ;)

Jean Oram said...

Definitely tricky finding that balance. All last week I stayed up late writing. This week--ouch. It was too much and I'm paying for it now.

But I also found that writing every day really got me in that groove and made it that much easier to pick up where I left off and get lots done. So there is a plus and minus to that. This week I am backing off a bit, but I don't want to fall out of that groove!

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Lynn Proctor said...

i have been just trying to squeeze in a little time here and there!

Jemi Fraser said...

Balance is tricky! I've gotten over getting upset when I can't write every day. I tend to do blogging related stuff when I have a few minutes here and there, then if I can snitch an hour from somewhere I'll focus more on the writing :)