Wonder Boi Writes

Q and A Time: Juggling It All

Hey friends, last year I started a question-and-answer series in which blog readers could send in questions and I’d blog my answers. I have to admit I’ve been remiss in doing this, so I’d like to try to get back to answering some of them.  Today’s questions comes from a reader with a username of Simplepleasures59, and she asks:

 How do you juggle it all? Often times I find myself feeling overwhelmed or guilty because, ultimately, something has to give. I have a wife, a house, a family, a plethora of close friends, my “paying” job, writing, research, studying the craft to make my writing better, personal reading time…and a hundred other things. All of them vie for my attention. So, how do you choose? What do you do to fit it all in?

So, how do I juggle it all?  Not very well sometimes. I haven’t done a very good job of finding balance lately.  The holidays threw me off, then my parents came to visit, and when Jackson’s school was supposed to start again, we got hit with a huge blizzard. He was home from school, and our travel plans got pushed back. I’ve honestly felt like a real hot mess lately.  That being said, I do have a few tips that I’m trying heed myself to get back on track. Here are few of them:

1) Set a time to write. Early in the morning, late at night, on lunch break, it might not be an ideal time, but it takes time. Like you said, there’s always something else vying for my attention, and that something else might have to give.  The rush to get my wife and son out the door always leaves the house a mess. I get  hundreds of emails a day.  I have comments on the blog and my Facebook. I pick up odd jobs to make ends meet, and we travel extensively for work and family commitments. There’s always a reason not to write, but if you want to be a writer, you have to see writing as being just as important as your other responsibilities. It may not always come first, but it can’t come last. If my kid is sick, I drop everything, but if there are dirty dishes in the sink, they may have to wait. Pick a chunk of time to write every single day and say, “This is my writing time; everything else will wait.”

2) Writing is a job, an awesome job, but a job. Treat it that way. I know it’s also an art. There is inspiration involved, and a lot of people want to wait for the muse to whisper in their ear.  That happens sometimes. It’s wonderful, and I love it, but I can’t depend on it. I have to go do my work every day, just like any other professional does. My schedule might be different. I certainly don’t write 40 hours a week, but like any other professional, I have to show up and put the time in. I also resent the idea that writers are somehow more inspired than other professionals. My wife is a teacher, a damn good one. Her job requires tons of creativity, lots of thinking on her feet, and it takes a heavy emotional toll, but does she say, “I’m not feeling inspired today, I just won’t go to work?”  No!  Some days are easier than others, but she still shows up and gives her students the best she has, even on her worst days. Your manuscript should be given the same consideration.

3) Set balanced goals. My first two points were about writing, but there’s more to life than words on the page. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a project and miss other great things in your life. Likewise, we can get so caught up in what’s going on around us that we bury our drive to create. I try to be very purposeful on how I spend my time. I make lists every day. I also do 30-day challenges where I lay out my 3 or 4 most important goals in the most important areas of my life (health /work/family/fun).  Under work, I may put that I want to write 30,000 words and do 4 blogs, but under family I may list 4 dates with my wife and 30 hours of quality time with my son. Of course this isn’t all I’ll do all month, but they are my top priorities. Thing always come up, but when I start to get pulled away by a new project or time constraint, I look back at those goals for the month and ask “Is this really a priority right now?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but usually it’s no. Setting realistic and easy-to-measure goals for short periods of time keeps me on track. At the end of the month I reevaluate.

4) Accountability is big for me.  I always post my 30-day challenges on Facebook and encourage others to do the same. We post progress reports once a week to cheer each other on or make suggestions for ways to improve. I also post my daily writing goals before I settle in, then report back with my final word count at the end. Honestly,  I probably wouldn’t achieve half the goals I set for myself if not for the fact that I hate admitting to my friends I was a total slacker all month. It also looks really bad to have to admit that I locked myself in my office for three days and didn’t play with my son at all.  Knowing what’s important to you, then having to admit to both yourself and others that you didn’t honor those priorities is a real kick in the pants. Find people whose opinions matter to you, and share your goals with them.

5) Keep evaluating your goals. One thing I learned when working with life coaches as I researched LoveLife is that living a life that’s unauthentic or out of line with your true self will make you miserable. If you’re having a hard time living up to your priorities, maybe you’ve set the wrong priorities. Look at your goals. Are they really what you want, or what someone else tells you to want? If I go more than a week or two without writing, I get cranky and lethargic. If I go too long without talking to my wife, I feel disoriented and uncentered. If I go too long without playing with my son, I feel lonely and bored. That’s my heart and mind telling me those things are essential to who I am. I can go months without watching TV and not miss it.  That’s my body telling me I don’t need it. It’s not always easy to get back on track. The couch is comfy, and HGTV asks nothing in return, but once I put in a little work to give my priorities the attention they deserve, I feel happier and stronger and have more energy. I feel good when I am on track. If you’re doing the things you say you value and don’t feel good about it, maybe it’s time to reexamine your values.

So, thats what I’ve got  Like I said, I am not always great at practicing what I preach. I get overwhelmed just like everyone else does, but when I try to remember all the steps above, I generally manage to do a much better job of juggling than when I don’t.


January 9, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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