The Perfect Balance: Integrating Writing into a Chaotic Life
by Angela Dennis
One of the main issues many writers face is balancing life with writing.
We are constantly besieged with responsibilities that pull us away from the computer (or notebook). It is all too easy to let our writing fall to the wayside in the midst of everyday chaos. The purpose of this blog isn’t to preach about how we all should make writing our top priority, or to lecture you to write every day so your muse doesn’t dry up.
That would make me a hypocrite, which is something I work very hard to avoid. I am writing this blog to share my experiences, and what works for me. If, in the process, I help one of you meet your pending deadline without having to drown yourself in coffee while pulling an all-nighter, I will consider this a success. That being said, let’s begin the journey.
Step One: Get Comfortable
And no I am not defining comfortable as sweats and t-shirts, a cozy room and a big cup of hot chocolate (although that tends to work for me). Comfort is as personalized as a favorite color or ice cream flavor. The purpose of this step is to get your muse ready to work. Find a way to differentiate between the time you are living your novel and the time you are living your life. I understand this may seem impossible. Case in point, as I write this my one year old is screaming at me and trying to unplug my computer. Life happens. Do the best you can.
Step Two: Get Your Family Involved
My husband and I live very hectic lives. He works full time and is in nursing school full time. I work full time and write full time. We also have a special needs child with specialized medical needs. So…life is chaotic. After my son was born, my husband and I sat down and made a plan. We looked at the “free time” we had each week and carved out the hours. I get a set amount of hours each weekend to write. He gets a set amount of hours to study. We also schedule family time to make sure we spend time together with our son and with each other. This works for us. Give it a try, maybe it will work for you.
Step Three: Set Goals
I am a BIG believer in goals. I set daily page goals and monthly chapter goals. But goals are dangerous. Fight the urge to beat yourself up if you don’t meet them. Think of it as dieting. If you do really well all day then come home and grab a cookie, you can’t throw your hands up and binge on sugar the rest of the night (I speak from experience, people. This is why I hate diets). If you don’t meet your page goal one day, don’t toss your hands up, throw your goals into the fireplace, and not write the rest of the week. Goals are living things. They are meant to be adjusted and tailored. It is impossible to know what is going to work for you until you start the process. But you can’t abuse your goals (i.e. set a page count far below what you know you can accomplish) and expect to be more productive. Be wise in your goal setting. Don’t overshoot and discourage yourself, but don’t undershoot and defeat the purpose.
Step Four: Be Flexible
In a perfect world we would have an expansive office in which to write. Our book covers would grace the walls and our favorite craft books would overflow beautiful mahogany bookshelves. There would be no interruptions and time would be limitless. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Be willing to write anywhere, at any moment. Jot down story ideas while you’re sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Play your scenes in your head while cooking dinner. Plot your next few chapters with your family at the dinner table. Do anything and everything (within reason) to get that book moving along.
Finding that perfect balance between writing and life is a struggle. You have to find what works for you, in your circumstances. This is my stab at it. I hope it helps. We are all in this crazy life together, so I would love to hear what steps you’ve taken to help you down the path.
Angela Dennis has been writing since she could put pen to paper. A lifelong lover of books and fantastical stories, her writing is inspired by the insanity of everyday life mixed with a dash of the incredible. When not writing, this Kentucky native can be found romping through the great outdoors with her husband and son, or curled up with a good book and a piping hot cup of java. Her latest novel SHADOWS OF FATE, Book One in the Shadow Born Series, will be released from Samhain Publishing in the Spring of 2014.
Angela loves to hear from her readers.
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