How to Continue to Write Without Neglecting Friends and Family

Writing is a solitary experience. Send all of your friends away, lock the door, put your butt in the chair and write, right? This is true, but often the inspirationMechanical-Pencil_hand writing 2 to write comes from hanging out with friends, chatting with family and from our everyday experiences. How can you have the time to get serious about writing, find time to keep up with family and friends, and make sure your pets don’t die in the process? It’s possible with balance. Here are a few suggestions.

Set up Regular Work Hours to Write

Set specific times to write. Let others know what they are. This way they’re more likely to respect them. Try to stay organized and on task.

(See Organize 5 Ways in 15 Minutes A Day.)

When others call, talk for a moment if you can do so, but after that, let them know that you are working on a schedule and you must get back to work.

You can decide if there are certain times when you’re more or less flexible. If you bend occasionally then, when you must be rigid, it is more likely your friends and family will understand. You can say, “I was able to help last time; this time I’m not available.”

Do you keep a schedule? What times work for you?

Keep in Touch by Writing (what a thought!)

Acknowledging birthdays and other special events goes a long way. Keep the postman in business. Send cards. Write a letter from time to time. Since you’re a writer, your friends may even expect to receive something written from you. If you’re in a relationship, consider writing for that person too. What better way to use your talent!

Schedule these types of writing tasks along with your regular writing time. By doing so, you stay connected. When you are not able to give others your physical Mechanical-Pencil_hand writingpresence, you’ve still given of your time and talent. You can use email when time is tight, but consider the other options first since email is less personal.

Make Your Goals Known

When you have deadlines and goals that are stretching you, let your friends and family know what you’re doing. This will not always satisfy them, but at least they will know why you have to say no. They might even cheer you on, or at least ask you how your goals are coming along.

Practice; share a current goal below.

Meet People After Hours

Plan time after the hours you’ve set for yourself to spend time with friends. Meet for dinner, go to the gym for exercise, or see a movie. Even if your personality is suchWriting - Dinner table that you’d rather relish reading a book than enjoying an evening out, go sometimes anyway. Writing is hard to do without real experiences to draw upon. The experiences will feed your mind with more things to write about.

Give Yourself a Lunch Break

If you’re working for yourself, take time out for lunch. Don’t eat at your desk unless it is absolutely necessary. You can use your lunch break to eat, but you can also use leftover minutes to call a friend, check up on a neighbor, or say Happy Anniversary to someone. It can make it easier to stay on task and write for a certain amount of time if you know you’ll reward yourself later by chatting with a friend. This can put you in a better mood to get back to writing, as well as breaking up that monotony of working alone.

Meet to Talk Shop (with other writers)

Writng-woman-Urban Legends postWriters often need to talk about writing. Many of your friends and family may not understand your love of words. It’s important to get together with other writers who you can talk to about the art and the business of writing. For some people, online groups work well. Still others will want to get together across the table with printouts and red pens or in coffee shops with laptops. If done correctly, these sessions will not only fulfill the need to talk about writing, but they will improve your understanding of the craft.

Developing the Balance

Having regular hours and weekly plans will help you feel balanced in your life. It will keep you from feeling guilty when you’re with friends thinking you should be writing, or from feeling like you’re neglecting your family when you’re getting writing done.

A schedule is similar to a boundary wall around your property. It lets you know what your responsibilities are and where they end. Boundaries walls are low. They aren’t really designed to keepComputer hand typing you inside or to keep others out. You decide how flexible you are, you decide how many gates and openings you have.

Though this post is lighthearted, I will admit I’ve upset family and lost a friendship or two trying to get this all worked out. These are my solutions. I hope by sharing them they might protect you from experiencing similar situations.

So set up a plan to keep writing, strive to maintain your friendships, and remember your family. And if you have other ideas or solutions that have worked for you, I’d love to hear your comments. If you know someone this post might help, please share it with them.

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19 comments on “How to Continue to Write Without Neglecting Friends and Family
  1. Lisa Rosier says:

    I love it — works for me!

  2. robyncrystal says:

    Great tips! I just started my blog a couple of weeks ago, and find myself plugged in, working on it constantly now. These are some great reminders that I need to take breaks and make sure I’m having fun with friends still. Thanks Peter!

  3. These are fantastic tips! I like how you share an avenue to both stay close to loved ones and also accomplish solid writing. So good to see this balance!

  4. Cate Macabe says:

    This is good advice all around. Scheduling and planning and prioritizing must happen for us to get our projects done — the same goes for making time for those we care about. I try to have two flexible days a week where I can shuffle time to visit friends and family or make phone calls, and a large wall calendar helps me see the big picture with any holes waiting to be filled. Even so, I probably don’t pay enough attention to my friends and family — finding that balance has been difficult.

  5. Hmm, then there are those of us who write to get away from everybody. 🙂

  6. Julie Luek says:

    Thought provoking tips. I find that life has a way of seeping into my writing, invited or not. The best thing I can do is take a deep breath and allow it in and roll with it. Then I escape to a library or coffee shop if I really need the isolation.

    • Thanks for stopping by Julie. It’s true that nothing works all the time, and you always need to adjust. But having a balance and a plan can make you feel more in control and keep you moving forward.

  7. Since I began writing when the youngest started college, the hubby works 12+ hours, and extended family members are far away, I can safely say no one is neglected when I write!

  8. Great job in summarizing this topic!

    I manage not to do most of these things, though…except for setting regular hours. 2200-0500. Sleep is overrated.

    Never really liked talking shop – about anything. I like to work, and I’ll gladly listen, but I really hate talking about the process of writing. (I’m also a pilot, and hate hanging out with other pilots, so there’s something evilly systemic there.)

    And I reward my endurance of a lunch date (and the dreaded small talk) = with writing. I think I have this backwards?

    Weird. Me, I mean.

    • Andrew thanks for the encouragement and for the feedback. Not nessisarily, as I said these are the things that have worked for me and that have helped me find the balance I was looking for. Everyone is different. I hope there will be lots of feedback because I’m interested in hearing what others do, and what works for them. Have a good day.

    • Totally off topic, but nice cowdog, Andrew.

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"A writer looks at a screen or piece of paper like a canvas. They see a country unexplored, a picture unpainted, a tale not told. They dare to venture into the barren land, explore its dark corners, and paint its pictures. Then they unveil the epic with the goal of compelling people to visit their newly discovered territory.”
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