The Writer’s Life: Balance is for Sissies
I originally wrote the following post for another blog over the summer. I’m not sure it ever ran and in light of my current kitchen predicament and a conversation with my writer friends, I felt it was time to post it here. See the video for my current state of sad affairs and the article below for my thoughts on balance 🙂
We were going to have no choice but to be nudists… when we ran out of clothes because no one had done the laundry in a month. You may be asking, why had no one done the laundry? The simple answer was because things were crazy in our house. My kids were on summer vacation from school, so they were happily existing in little else than basketball shorts and swim trunks. My husband was taking three classes and working two jobs. While I, the writer of the family, was locked in a death grip with my laptop finishing the first draft of my new book.
No one bothered to do the laundry.
When I came out of that first-draft fog and realized the direness of our situation, I also found I had a request from a blogger to do a guest blog post on the balancing act of writer, wife, mother, and all-around fabulous human being.
The timing was beyond perfect. I pretty much looked around at the chaos that was my life and giggled. Most of the time we do a pretty good job balancing everything, but sometimes (like the beginning of this summer) we fail miserably.
And that’s the first thing to keep in mind. You will never, ever, keep everything in balance. Ever. Accept this fact first and you’ll take a lot of pressure off yourself.
A writer’s life is very different from most. We wear a few different hats: artist, philosopher, dreamer, marketing genius, public relations, and editor. Many times all on the same day. And all of that is taking place smack dab in the middle of our houses.
Being the one working from home is difficult. I could easily let writing take a back seat to everything else. No matter how loving or supportive your family is, when things get crazy it’s easy to rely on the person ‘working from home’ to pick up the slack.
You can NOT let this happen.
The biggest thing I have found helpful in keeping the balancing act balanced is boundaries. Just because I’m at home, just because I make my own hours, doesn’t mean I have nothing to do or that my job isn’t just as important as any other member of my family.
It is my responsibility to set my working hours, set my boundaries, and demand that my family respect those boundaries. They know my working hours. We follow the Nora Roberts ‘Blood and Fire Rule’: don’t bother me unless it’s blood or fire. They are all perfectly capable human beings who do not need mom/wife during working hours unless it is dire. Phone calls and text messages get answered at the end of my ‘day’. If I haven’t hit my word count or answered emails, I do that at night before bed.
All of this works because of respect. We practice this as a family. We each have goals and needs and we work together to meet these expectations. We band together when one of us is behind… and that includes in the laundry department.
It took a week and all of us working together, but the laundry got back on track. My first draft got through revisions, the kids had fun on vacation, and my husband survived his classes. The backed-up laundry didn’t hurt anyone and it certainly wasn’t worth worrying over.
Being a writer is most definitely a delicate balancing act. But with a lot of boundaries and respect, we seem to be making it work. Sometimes that means our house looks… interesting (I think that is the kind way to say our house looks like the cast of the Rugrats and the Muppets had a party and didn’t clean it up). Sometimes that means we are in danger of becoming nudists. But as long as we work together, I think my kids are growing up in a house of love and creativity, and I’m living my lifelong dream of being a full-time writer, which is really, really cool.