Writing and Striking a Balance

balance

Are you shackled to your keyboard? Do you sometimes feel like a captive in a prison of your own making? Not to worry, you are definitely not alone. It can be so hard striking a balance between writing and other important things in your life. If you are not a full time writer, it’s even more difficult. I have a nail salon to run and have reduced my working week from five days to four in order to spend more time writing. In time I hope to whittle it down to just three but it’s how I earn a living, for now, and I enjoy being there with my clients.

If you are self-published, as I am, then you know how much time is eaten up in your week taking care of social media, blogging, keeping up with what’s new, organizing book launches/signings, promoting your work etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. All of this consumes many precious hours which, you tell yourself, could be spent on your writing. If you want to write just for the pleasure of it, by all means do. There will be no publication deadline to meet, no pressure from having to learn or keep up with the marketing end of things and no worries about trying to find readers. If you want to share your work then some of these things you will have to do or pay someone else to do it – great if you can afford it. However, to make a living as an author is a whole different ball game. When I decided that writing was how I would like to eventually earn a living, it changed everything.

Now I have deadlines to meet, set by myself, so I have nobody else to blame when I’m under pressure to finish a book. I have book signings and launches to organize – this is where family and friends can be a big help – and that’s after I have spent a great deal of time formatting the digital and paperback version of the latest work of fiction, ready for publication. Writing the book itself is the easy part in all of this, for me anyway. I still love writing and telling a story in the hope of it entertaining someone, other than myself. I am writing a lot more now because of my goal to eventually earn a living doing something I that I am passionate about. My problem is striking a balance between family, work, writing and bringing my poor, neglected dog for a walk.

In a heightened state of anxiety – okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little – I approached someone for advice. I should rephrase that. I ran frantically upstairs to The Coach Clinic, above my salon, gasping for breath and tearing my hair out over deadlines that needed to be met and not having enough days in the week to get everything done. A few extra hours in the day would be helpful, too.

Unable to lengthen the 24 hour day for me, or add an extra day to the week, Carsten Schnier did the next best thing – he helped me strike a balance. My head cleared and at last there was some sort of order to my life once again. I don’t always stick to my very flexible plan, my dog will testify to that fact as he can count his walks on one paw, but when I look at it I see order instead of chaos. That helps me to prioritize and focus on what I need to do. It also shows me where I can make changes and adapt my schedule from week to week (I did say I have a very flexible plan) to suit changing circumstances.

If you are busy writing and in need of striking a balance, as I am, try planning out your week. Put it on a chart and stick it on the wall where you do most of your writing.  Keep it structured but flexible and forgive yourself for those days when you ignore it completely (sorry Carsten) which I often do. I will share mine with you to give you an idea of how it works. Notice that the dog even gets a mention.

Monday:
Writing/editing from 8 AM – 4 PM (set yourself an alarm at 3:45 PM to remind you to stop writing. Hit one snooze and program snooze for 15 min) Put the alarm in a place that means getting out of the chair to switch it off, leaving the room if possible.
Tuesday:
Editing/writing from 8 AM – 10 AM (Alarm set for 9:45 hit and program snooze for 15 min)
Art class from 11 AM – 1 PM, then work in salon for the afternoon.
Wednesday:
Writing from 8 AM – 11 AM (set alarm for 10:45)
Flexible afternoon
Blogging, newspaper writing from 8 PM – 11 PM
Thursday:
Editing/writing early morning before going to salon.
Flexible from 5 PM until 11 PM (do something nice for yourself or treat yourself to a nice dinner. (just a suggestion) Thanks Carsten, I must remember that one.
Friday:
Editing/writing from 7 AM – 9 AM (maybe set the alarm again)
Social networking from 8 PM until 10 PM.
Saturday:
Recreation (family time) with a little writing/editing in the day.
Sunday:
Flexible time
Dog walking from 3 PM – 5 PM

I felt much more in control having sought advice from a professional life coach, who knew how to ask the right questions. Even if you do it on your own, writing out a daily schedule will definitely help in striking a balance if you feel the need to.

Thank you Carsten of  Coach Clinic

 

 

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About Jean Reinhardt

Author of 'A Pocket Full of Shells' an Amazon International best seller, Jean writes young adult and historical fiction. She has been known to shed a tear over Little House on the Prairie.
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