Thursday, August 18, 2011

Life in the Balance

Quote of the Day: "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that is why they call it the present." ~Kung Fu Panda

Life is full of a gazillion things that I have to do, and another gazillion things I want to do. And everything I don't get done that I think I should get done only adds to the pile of guilt. I want to be a good mom, but I also need time to write. I want to be a caring, attentive wife, but I also need time to write. I want to volunteer at the school, but I also need time to write. And so on. It seems like writing cuts into every aspect of life.

According to time management guru Stephen R. Covey, it's a matter of prioritizing. So here's how I prioritized my time. Keep in mind that this is what works for me, and every writer's process is an individual thing. For one thing, I don't work outside the home so that is a huge plus when it comes to finding time to write.

A while ago my kids started complaining about how I'm always upstairs in my room--where my home office work space is. That nagged at me until I realized I didn't want my children looking back on their childhood and saying, "I remember how mom used to sit for hours typing at her computer." I want them to remember me playing games with them, helping them with their science fair projects, riding bikes to the candy store.

In the evening I had some quiet time when the kids were in bed. But soon I noticed my husband being subtly bugged that I seemed to care more about writing my story than interacting with him. Although he's possibly the most supportive husband on the planet when it comes to me and my writing, I didn't want him to feel second place. I didn't want my writing to become a wedge that slowly split us apart.

Priority Number One: Family First

For me, family really is the most important and most gratifying endeavor I've ever worked on. I made a rule to put my writing aside the moment the kids get home from school. Also, I never write in the evenings. I use that time to be with my husband. (Exception to this is, of course, NaNoWriMo because then every waking moment must be spent on writing!)

Priority Number Two: My Spirituality

I refuse to shirk my church responsibilities or spiritual welfare by using that time to write. I complete my church obligations first, then work on my writing. Also, I never write on Sundays. You can read more about my faith here:

Priority Number Three: My Writing

In a workshop with Martine Leavitt, she advised us that if we want to be real authors we can't have any other hobbies. I don't scrapbook. I don't shop. I don't play in the local orchestra. Those are all things I gave up to make time for writing.

Priority Number Four: Personal and Home Upkeep

You may think this should be above writing, but I'm sad to say, it's not. During the regular school year, I get up with my kids at 6:30 and get them off to school. Then I clean and tidy the house and run my errands. Two or three times a week I exercise--a 12 to 20 mile bike ride.

But at 11:30, I put everything aside, done or not, and write. I can usually get a good three hours in before the kids come home at 2:30. It's not much, and sometimes I have to start earlier and leave the laundry undone, but that's ok. Sometimes an appointment or lunch with my mother cuts into my writing time and I get less than an hour. But it's a good, regular time for me, and it's what works.

After this, everything else is filler. I spend a lot of time reading and critiquing the writing of others, such as my critique group. And a lot of time reading books.

Here are some other blogs I noticed recently that offer good advice about balancing the writing life and real life:

Agent Rachelle Gardiners 90/10 rule for building a web presence. 

Balancing mom, work, and writing.


  1. You always put me first and it's made more of an impact on me than you probably know. You're such an example to me.

  2. I think I could say my priorities are quite similar and in the same order as yours. It can get a little harried around the house when laundry isn't your priority, but them's the breaks, right?

  3. I started working more on my spirituality because I noticed how sometimes I didn't have enough time for scriptures but always for reading other books. I don't write on Sundays either, and I love having a day of rest.

    Remember I also agreed on the no hobbies thing? Well, I started knitting again. Nothing fancy, of course, but I finally found a use for my beautiful yarns. It made me happy to do something creative that wasn't writing. I love the repetition and silence that go along knitting. I discovered that I while I knit, I can think of my book and try to untangle the plot while I untangle the yarn.

    As you say, there has to be a balance in everything. If only there was no laundry and food preparation! Life would be so much easier!