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 inspiration 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.
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 presence, 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 such 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)
Writers 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 keep 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.