Thursday, April 11, 2013

Juggling Life as a Writer

I don't know how people do it. Juggling, that is.  I've spent a lifetime messing with balls, bean bags, and pieces of fruit, but usually give up after getting hit on the head. By the way, that apple should have knocked Newton out. Just sayin'.

Life as a writer is just as hard. Mostly because I'm also a Mom. And a Wife. And a Friend. And up until last year...a student. Yes, after years and years of online, summertime, and full semester classes I finally earned my degree in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing. I wrote a Senior Honors Thesis in place of a minor degree. It was hard.  Dang hard.

People asked me how I do it.

I have help of course.

It's like watching the jugglers who involve other people on stage. Sure they can do some cool tricks alone, but they can do SO many more with an extra pair of hands. Such is the case with the rest of us as well. Here how it works:

  • Set a goal. I was six years old when I decided to become a writer. I never lost sight of that dream. Even when our family continued to grow. I figured I was gaining life experience to write about.
  • Do a little everyday.  I didn't get my Bachelor's degree all at once. Beginning to end was about 20 years. The finished product is worth the time you put in. Work hard. Be patient.
  • Give birth to really great kids. :) But seriously. Along with their chores, hugs, and complicated lives, my children also provide me a wealth of ideas, fodder, and beta readings. They rock. Totally and completely. But I also give them their due time. I'm a Mom first, a writer second. Of course the kids LOVE the candy jar I have on my desk. They get to sample some when I'm busy working. It's a reward for THEIR love and support. :)
  • Friends. Get them. Online, real life, whatever. They're invaluable. Invest the time in them.
  • Set a schedule.  I was never a big fan of planning out each hour of my day. Until I tried it one week.  I got SO much work done.  Giving things their due time, and then giving yourself permission to move onto something else, throws all the guilt out the window. 
  • Get out of the house. Even if just for a moment.  Sometimes I'll step foot out the door and instantly be hit with an idea or a scene. A song on the radio will spark some dialogue. I've solved book plots in a ten minute drive. Warning: it was kind of hard to drive through all my tears of joy.  :)
  • Have fun.  If you're not enjoying it, then ask yourself why you're doing it.  Yes, some writing is work and not very fun, *editing-cough cough* but take a look at the story and what you're trying to do.  Even serious articles are driven by this basest emotion. If the article doesn't bring us some measure of joy (making a valid point, entertaining a group, inspiring others to be better), then it will reflect in our writing. And we'll be miserable. 
How do you keep a balance in life with a writing career? Any secrets you're willing to share?


  1. I think I was blessed in a weird way. I didn't get the writing bug when my kids were little. It wasn't until they were teenagers that I got that first urge to write. I never had to juggle between taking care of babies and finding that time to write. I feel for young mothers who have that desire but know their children need them, and I admire you for choosing the right.

    I have no secrets with my writing time. Dishes don't get done a lot of the time. The floors? Don't look at them. Laundry, yeah, when necessary. I love my husband's understanding ways. He kinda likes me.

  2. How do I juggle? One ball at a time. :)

    Seriously, I work full time, and I have a family, so prioritizing is a day-to-day, hour-to-hour thing. I try to set a goal for the day--what I want to accomplish before I go to bed. If I meet the goal, then I'm good. If I exceed the goal, then I'm ecstatic. If my priorities get moved because something came up, I roll with it. The only time I get upset with myself is if I didn't have a goal to begin with, and I end up accomplishing nothing. More often than not, if I don't have a goal, I get easily side-tracked by stuff that doesn't need to be side-tracking me.

    Having priorities and goals, and being prepared to roll with the punches. That's my secret. :)

  3. What a perfect post! Sometimes it really does seem like too much. I ALWAYS have to break things down into smaller tasks, otherwise I get overwhelmed.

  4. brilliant, loved the post, great steps to take when doing anything.

  5. Wonderful post and it is applicable to almost anything. :)


Tell me how you really feel. Come on, I Dair YA.