As a writer, I’m reminded daily of the amount of discipline it takes to get those words on the page. It’s tough to carve out time to write each day. Frankly, it’s tough to carve out time to get a shower but it’s a priority for me so I do it. The same goes with writing–it’s a priority. But guess what? My family is my ultimate priority and in order to be a good wife and mother I need to take care of myself so that I have the physical, emotional, and mental strength to get through each day. And that’s where the balancing act comes into play.
I’ve read a lot about how in order to be a successful writer you have to deny yourself of many time-sucking activities. TV, Facebook, internet surfing–those are easy ones for me to see and I agree that usually they are time-wasters. But I have even heard a fellow writer go so far as to recommend limiting the amount of service you do outside of your home so you can have more time to write. Sports, music, art, crafts–all of these things must be eliminated so that you can make more time to pound out those words. One author even said that they can’t take time to read books because it cuts into the writing time. This example of not reading books I heard recently, and it was the wake-up call I needed to realize that not every author gives good advice. I’ve been questioning this kind of advice and continually asking myself what I personally need to do to find the writing balance in my life.
Lately, I’ve been praying for help to find the balance in my life to keep my family and myself happy and in tune with the Spirit. I’ve been given a few opportunities that have helped me gain a new perspective on the correct balance.
Writing is a creative process. You cannot draw water from an empty well. One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes I have to refill my well by participating in other creative avenues. I love music. I play the piano, sing, and compose, but it’s something that I have not been able to devote as much time to as I would like. The little time I had is now dedicated to teaching my two daughters piano and singing lessons. A couple months ago, my sister asked me to accompany her on the violin for a beautiful piece that had a strong and difficult accompaniment. It was the first time in years that I practiced on a regular basis. It felt wonderful. I remembered how much music re-energizes my soul.
This incident put me on a path to rethink my approach to writing. Rather than feeling like I had to deprive myself of every other thing I enjoyed, I questioned some of the advice I had heard. You see, I plan to write for the rest of my life and I’m hoping that I have a lot more life to live. I realized if I continued on the path of creative deprivation I’d embarked on, my spark would burn out.
I spend most of each day trying to keep my one-year-old son from getting another bruise/bump on his head, my three-year-old son from destroying everything in his path and sitting on his younger brother, and taking care of my two daughters. Right now we’re potty-training so that puts a whole new spin on life. The point is we’re all busy in whatever stage we are experiencing in our life. We should be busy because we wouldn’t want to be bored–I’m definitely not made that way.
Recently my husband asked me, “Have you ever wondered how it would be if you didn’t write, because you know it’s so hard to find the time and it’s so much work?”
I thought about it for a minute and I said, “I would probably just find something else to fill my time because that’s my personality.”
It was a good reminder. My personality is driven, goal-oriented, determined. I go after things with my whole heart. That means that I need to take extra care to keep the balance. I’ve made a decision to find more joy in my life. My family brings me joy. Writing brings me joy. So does baking homemade bread, gardening, crocheting, sewing, stamping, singing, running, and many more things. I’m changing my mindset from the deprivation mode to seeing all that I can enjoy when I am balanced.
I love spending time with my family and I struggle with actually being able to relax with them once in a while. My kids are always asking me to watch cartoons or a movie with them, and my standard answer is, “Sorry, I can’t.” There’s too much laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, and writing to be done. I can’t waste time watching a cartoon when I could be doing something else.
A few nights ago, I decided to put my new plan into action and I whipped up a batch of popcorn and watched, How the Grinch Stole Christmas with my entire family. I watched the whole thing and just sat there and did nothing except laugh and listen to my kids say, “Mom, watch this. It’s my favorite part!”
It felt great. I felt joy and balance. I’m not cured. I’m still frustrated because between changing sheets and wet clothes from potty training and all the other household stuff, my word count is suffering. But my brain is ticking through ideas for my story as I do laundry. Dialogue is flowing in between the fogged spaces as I rock my teething baby and I’m finding that when I do sit down to write the story is still there eagerly waiting for me.
How do you find the writing balance in your life? What could you do to improve your balance?