Saturday, February 23, 2013

Balance: Writing & Life

Writing & Life

Writing. Querying for an agent. Subbing to editors. Deadlines. Author events. 

A full or part time job. Going to school. Being a parent. Having a social life. Staying healthy.

This is a lot to juggle but most of us who write for and/or read this blog, do these things on a daily basis. Personally, I'm trying to balance my kids and husband, writing, and working for a literary agency from home, alongside a host of other things. I thought I'd share with you a few things that I've found helpful while trying to  find a BALANCE. Some of this boils down to good ol' time management.

1. Make time to socialize - And I'm not talking about Twitter or Facebook. I mean getting together with friends or you significant other and doing something. Have fun. Laugh. Talk. Share. It's healthy. If your family or friends know you write, they may ask about it. When my friends ask me about my writing I get so excited. In turn, that excitement reminds me why I love to write and makes anxious to sit down and create.

2. Make time to workout/eat healthy - This is easier said than done. Believe me - I know. We sit to write and sitting is one of the worst things for you. So even if you can't afford a gym, do a video at home, walk/jog around your neighborhood (you can even combine it with #1 and kill two birds with one stone). Or you can do what I did. I just signed up for adult swim lessons. I can tread water and doggy paddle and I'm not comfortable in water. Sooooo....I'm facing a fear, getting exercise, and will be safe with my kids, all by taking a scheduled swim lesson. Exercise and eating right will also give us the energy and endorphins (happier disposition) we need to do all these other things.

3. Prepare food early to help with meals - Making a list is the first step in making meal prep easier. If you do this, you also cut back on junk food that ends up in your house. (If you have kids at home, you still end up with some junk food, no matter how hard you try. : ) ) Cutting veggies and pulling the meat off a rotisserie chicken when you bring them home from the store is time effective, as is making two meals at once. Serve one the night you make it, and put the other in the fridge for a night that week you are busy or need to leave the house (and kids with your spouse) for writing time. 

4. If you need to entertain little ones - Keep crafts, toys, activities new by rotating them. I keep the such organized in ziplock bags or Rubbermaid containers easy for storage, then I rotate them from our main floor, to our family room in the basement, to storage (out of sight, out of mind). I also keep a couple different bags full of different entertainment/educational things for different times. One bag is specifically for going out to eat and another is for my four year old while we watch his big brother's hour long tennis lesson. My crit partner sent Valentine stickers to me specifically for my four year old and it provided me with hours of quite time last week.

5. Getting tasks done on the go - I keep a notebook with me at all times. I can jot down ideas, notes, etc. for my WIP, a blog post, or whatever, but I can also make short outlines of a chapter if I'm at my son's soccer practice. Twitter and Facebook apps for your mobile device are perfect for building your platform in the nooks and crannies of the day.

6. Keep a schedule - Scheduling a particular time and/or day for email, social networking, writing, reading, or critiquing/beta-reading will help you stay on task. Once that time is up, you move on to the next task. Working from home has made me realize that a schedule is a valuable tool. I devote a chunk of time to work related jobs then shift to my house/parent duties for another allotted time. That doesn't mean I don't do both at the same time - I do. I'm still learning this scheduling thing, but it definitely seems to be helping me.

7. Stay positive - You have to find whatever it is that help you do this. For me, I surround myself with positive people. Again, that's not to say I don't have bad days and I don't think my writing is crap. I do. But surrounding myself with positive coworkers (which for me includes my mentor agent/agent/critique partners) an encouraging spouse, enthusiastic friends and family helps ME stay positive. I keep positive reminders around my house, like wall hangings, positive/encouraging quotes inside my medicine cabinet I open every single morning, and a daily devotional. Figure out what keeps you positive and do it.

Do you have a tip or two to share? Something that helps you keep your writing life and personal life balanced?!


  1. You're amazing, Tonya! Great post! I recently made a checklist of ask my social media stops to make sure I was updating/posting regularly. I schedule some on Hoot suite and others make time to do live. :)

  2. ask= all
    (this is why I have a copy editor) ;)

  3. great advice! And I'll add on two more tips: BodyrockTV for workouts and crockpot for coking! Both have been life savers for me.

  4. I would add flexibility. Some people get SO freaked out and tense if something DOESN'T HAPPEN exactly as planned, that it throws them off for hours, or the rest of the day. Roll with the punches. Stressin out never helped anyone. :) Great post!