Monday, January 30, 2006


Balance. That’s a really tough challenge for many writers—especially women. We have so many other things in our lives that claim our attention. It might be a day job, it might be family responsibilities, it might be that we put our own needs last, including the need to write.

I said in my last post that society often doesn’t seem to value the work of writers. That can be true of people close to us as well. It can be hard to persevere if we’re not getting published and those we love keep complaining that we are spending too much time writing instead of with them.

So how can we achieve balance? First we need to affirm for ourselves that writing is important. It’s important to us whether or not we ever publish, though getting published is obviously often going to be the goal. If we know it in our hearts and value it for ourselves, it will be much easier to insist that others value it as well, even if they don’t understand why it matters to us.

Everyone is entitled to something they love! And deep in our hearts, we love writing or we wouldn’t be writers. It is a fundamental part of who we are. We NEED to write.

So. We know we need to write. We know it matters. At the same time, we need to meet other obligations in our lives. How do we do that? How do we achieve balance?

Begin with a plan. Think about your week. Where could you find half an hour a day to write? Where could you find a short block of time that is your own? Maybe it means getting up early. Maybe it means writing while your children nap. (If they nap—mine never did.) Maybe it means writing when you would otherwise watch television or talk with a friend on the phone. Maybe it means writing during your lunch hour at work instead of going out to eat with friends. The key is to figure out when you can fit in that short block of time. (Note: It’s great if you can carve out even longer blocks of time but even half hours of writing time will add up.)

Next figure out how you can maximize that writing time. For me, when my kids were little, it meant carrying notebook and pen everywhere I went. If I was at the doctor’s office, I would be making notes. I might jot down notes over coffee or in the brief five minutes my kids were playing with each other or watching television. The key was to do the brainstorming and plotting in those odd spare moments so that when I could sit down to write I was ready to do so.

Another key is to find someone who supports your dream. Find someone who cheers you on as you write and encourages you to keep doing so. If you show your work to anyone, make sure you choose someone who will tell you what’s good about it as well as what they think could be improved. And if you can’t or don’t want to show it to anyone know that plenty of successful writers never show their work to anyone before it goes to an editor or agent.

It’s not always easy to balance life and writing. At the same time, finding a way to do so is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, if we are writers. And, even if they don’t realize it, it is also one of the greatest gifts we can give those we love. When we follow our dreams, we show our children by example that they can honor and go after their dreams as well. When we write and fill that well inside ourselves, we have more to offer those around us. When we nourish that creative spirit with our writing, we are nourishing a creativity we can bring to all aspects of our lives.

Note: Everything I’ve said here applies to any talent or gift you may have.

I wish for all of you the joy that comes from cherishing the gifts unique to you. You will never regret making time for them in your life.