So many writers struggle with finding the right balance between their life and their writing. It can be a serious source of guilt and shame, neither of which are productive emotions btw. I’ve got the secret no one likes to talk about, the advice no one wants to give. What’s the secret to balancing life and writing? Don’t.
It’s not about balance, it’s about priorities
When I decided I wanted to run a marathon in 2015, I didn’t worry about balancing my training and my life. I didn’t make sure that for every hour I spent running, I spent an hour with friends or family. I also didn’t quit my job or other important responsibilities. What I did was make it a priority.
It meant making sacrifices, sure. Mostly in the form of waking up earlier than I wanted to most days, especially Saturdays. But it was something I wanted to do.
Writing is the same. If it’s important to you, make it your priority.
It helps if you have a specific goal in mind, like a novel or memoir, but that’s not necessary. The shift is mostly mental, but it’s vital. It’s the difference between talking about finding time to write and making time to write. Setting a writing schedule has been the key to many a writers’ success, most write anywhere between two to four hours a day. (Seriously, Google “[your favorite author’s name] writing routine.”)
The next step is proving to others that you mean business.
Telling yourself something is your priority is an important first step, but the real challenge comes with others test your resolve. There were many a Saturday morning when I got an invite to do something fun that I had to turn down because I knew I’d still be running. It wasn’t easy to say no, but I had a plan and I was going to stick to it. Eventually, my people got the message.
Stephen King says the only thing a writer needs is, “a door [they’re] willing to close. The closed door is your way of telling the world and yourself that you mean business.” If you can’t find a literal door, then come up with some other signal for those around you—headphones, a sign.
Even the likes of JK Rowling struggles with getting everyone on board. “Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg.”
Long story, short:
No one is going to take your writing seriously until you do
This may all sound like a huge, “easier said than done.” I’m not trying to downplay things here, I swear. From my experience, there is no such thing as a simple mindset shift. It takes a whole lot of willpower and practice. But it’s going to be important for your productivity, not to mention happiness in your writing life.
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