Finding Balance in the Writing Life a Day at a Time

Apr 7, 2011

We writers tend to share similar concerns-- that's one of the reasons I love blogging. I read someone else's post on something that worries me too, and think, "I'm not alone!" Recently, I've been thinking about something I've seen on several blogs that's a big concern for me too. We call it "finding balance."

Typically, the answer for finding balance is to simplify. Cut out TV, get the kid's help with housework, wake up earlier, etc. And it's a great point. Simplifying life is actually quite refreshing. But still, life is still busy. There are some things you just can't "simplify" out.

I'm a stay-at-home mom of a toddler, so compared to a lot of you, I'm not actually that busy! Seriously, I don't know how some of you do it. You're amazing. But balancing all the balls I've got is still something I worry about. A lot, actually. I'm somewhat paranoid about making sure I don't sacrifice my family to my writing-- I never want them to feel they're second on my priority list.

Here's the thing. That paranoia and worry was stressing me out. I tried making up schedules on Excel sheets, and even that didn't work for long. "Finding balance" became another ball to juggle. Until yesterday, when I realized something.

Finding balance is not a one-time thing.

Using the word "finding" makes it sound like balance is an object we're searching for, and once we've got it, we'll be fine! Not so, my friends. Not so. When I tried writing my schedule, I realized, I CAN'T schedule my life right now-- it changes every day. Some days I need to do major housecleaning for a few hours. Some days I need to take my son to the park and just have fun with him. Some days I have to take the car to the shop. That's when it hit me.

Finding balance means taking it a day at a time.

That's not to say I shouldn't have a schedule, and that I can't plan some things out. But life is always in flux. I have to look at this particular day and decide what the balance will be. Some days, it'll be tipped in the direction of family, some days in the direction of writing, and others in the direction of the daily crisis. As long as the scale isn't tipped in one direction for too many days in a row, it's okay for things to be "out of balance" for a day or two!

So, my friends, don't be afraid to let your balance scales tip back and forth. What things do you do to keep your balance in life? What things do you worry about?

17 comments:

Christine Murray said...

I like this post. I struggle to balance all the different parts of my life, and at the end of every day I feel a certain amount of guilt because there's always something that hasn't gotten enough attention. And this week it's been my writing.

I like the idea that it's ok if something slips through the cracks today, because I'll give it priority another day. If I could keep that to the top of my mind then maybe I could cut out a lot of pointless guilt. Which is always good!

Kiernan said...

This is such a great point. I really believe that we have to learn flexibility -- to meet the needs of that day, morning, hour, moment as they come. Otherwise, our "balanced" schedules can lead to imbalance!

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Reece said...

These are some really good thoughts, Shallee. And not just for writing; these are good things to keep in mind no matter who you are or what you do. It's easier said than done, but it's the constant effort and learning experiences that help us become the person we want to be.

Michelle Merrill said...

I think about this every. single. day. It's so hard to find a balance. My post yesterday kind of relates to this too, more on a writing level but it can certainly apply to everything I do. Make a plan but be flexible. Good luck with everything :)

David Powers King said...

Balancing life. What a vast topic, and you touched upon it very well. It's a matter of prioritizing, for me. What's important, what can be lived without. Saves time and money if you put all your brain power into it. Thank you for the perspective! :)

Janel said...

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm to the point in my life where I need to help my parents. One day a week is now spent playing taxi driver so they can get groceries and run errands.

Now I'm looking at ways to get back the writing time I'm losing. Feeling a little panicked since I signed up for a challenge to write a short story every day in May!

Good luck with finding your balance. It's a moving target. :)

Rane Anderson said...

I really struggle with balancing my life, too, and I don't have a toddler! I'm so focused on my goals, that I do make other things come #2. When it comes down to it, I think: why am I watching TV...I could be working. It's a problem, I suppose. But taking it one day at a time seems like a good plan to me:)

Julie Musil said...

This is definitely a daily struggle. My sons are in school during the day, so I make an effort to take care of all my writing tasks while they're gone. When they come home, I do my best to set writing aside. Does it always work this way? NO!

emy shin said...

Thank you for this post.

Finding balance is one of those things that continually elude me. Being in college, how much time I can spend writing depends on whether I'll have a paper due the next day or a test coming up at the end of the week. I try to not feel guilty if I can't write at all during the few weeks when school eats up all my time, and try to get some writing done during the small breaks here and there.

Heather Hellmann said...

So true. I wrote the first three-fourths of my novel during my last two years of college. I had a full course load, field study in elementary schools, and a part-time job, but I managed to make time for writing. This meant staying up late on weeknights to study and finish homework so I could have the weekend to write. Often times, I only had Sundays.

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

I have unlimited time to write, but I find that I don't balance my time properly all the same. I started keeping track of how much time I spend doing certain things, and that really helps. I can see where I waste time, where I can do things differently to make it faster, and I can be shocked at how little time I leave for writing! Then I rearrange accordingly.

Kittie Howard said...

Great post! What you wrote about affects everyone (I think) at one time or another. I try not to let any one thing rule my life...not always possible as life (at least, for me) can be a roller coaster. When the unexpected comes along I just do the best I can. But big applause for you for doing all that you do. My niece has a toddler. She's constantly on the go. Those little ones can move!

Angie said...

That's a great discovery. One day at a time is an excellent motto to live by. I think you have it figured out better than you think. Prayer helps me figure out the balance for each day.

Lynda R Young said...

I worry about everything... everything. Sigh ;) The balance certainly tips now n then, but I like best one day at a time :)

J.L. Campbell said...

True words. I need to do a better job of balancing the things I do in a day. My editing is now suffering but I'm determined to find a way to do more of that each day. I try not to worry about things I can't change. I've discovered that 99% of the things I worry about never happen.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I worry and fret about finding a balance too. Somedays it tips heavily on one side,sometimes on the other. Currently I am trying to take things one day at a time.

Kari Marie said...

What a wonderful point Shallee. A give and take - I like it.

 
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