We’ve already had some great posts about balance. Adam Israel wrote Learning to Say No, Sandra Wickham wrote Filling Your Well. In the name of having to post a blog on Christmas Eve (which, due to being so very extremely Polish, is the day I actually celebrate Christmas) I’m going to do one as well.
I think all of us here have a 9-to-5 and are writing in the slivers of time we can carve out of our maddening lives. There are other things that sometimes get shoved to the wayside in the process: social lives, entertainment, family, proper nutrition, hygiene, sanity. You know, the details.
But you gotta take care of them details.
I call this painting: Writer, Deep in Revision, Needs a Bath.
While the image of the reclusive author is kinda cool in a Don’t We All Wish We Were Salinger kind of way, truth of it is, I ain’t Thomas Pynchon and my tenuous grasp on statistics tells me you aren’t either. (And if you are, can you please return my calls?) (Just kidding, I don’t have Thomas Pynchon’s number.) (Or do I?) (…) (No, I don’t.)
Meaning, you’re going to have to come out of your hidey-hole sometime. You’re going to have to buy the groceries, and cook the foods, and go for a walk, and play with your kids if you have them, and maybe give your Significant Other a kiss on the cheek or something. Just every so often, though. Don’t want them to start expecting this kind of treatment to come regularly.
Basically, you need to be a whole person. And a guilt-free whole person.
If you want a career in writing, a 4srs career, locking yourself up in a tower to meet a deadline is going to be part of your life. But you have to prioritize. You have to find balance. You will have to, once in awhile, pass a writing opportunity for the simple fact that you are a fleshy human being, not an automaton, and there are other fleshy human beings who want and need your presence. This is not a bad thing. This is a pretty awesome thing, actually.
So You Have A Reference: Family (Approximate).
How do I find balance? Between working as an engineer, getting my master’s in engineering, and writing, it’s very easy for me to stay way up in my head and forget that anyone or anything else exists other than my computer. I live by schedule. If I don’t write it down right then and there and carve out hours to do it, it doesn’t happen. Simple fact of my life. So to ensure that, for instance, I sometimes see my own Significant Other, I set one night every week as Date Night, where I pull away from the computer and just spend time being a human being.
Yes, I plan my relaxation time. When your life is packed to the gills, you have to.
I know the urge to work work work can sometimes sweep you away. The desire to keep writing and make token time to do other things can be a siren’s call when tangled up in great ideas and flowing words and intense editing. But if you don’t take time out, you’ll burn out. And the best way to take time out and enjoy yourself? Take time to just sit and be, with the ones you love. Forget everything else you’re working on, everything else you want to do. Just be in the moment, and enjoy.
With that, go enjoy your day off. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, take the opportunity to order some Chinese and make fun of bad movies with your loved ones. And make sure to set time for them in the coming year. They deserve it, and so do you.
And if you have a hard time justifying it, think of it as research 😉 Writing is about the human condition, after all, right?
As for me, it’s time to go eat some śledzie.