I’ve spent years obsessing over balancing my work and the rest of my life. All the media reports convinced me many years ago that having a life is actually, you know, important.
But I love writing. And I have way too many stories in my head. The idea of slowing down and not writing all of them makes my neck prickle and my heart speed up.
While I was still working the day job, work-life balance was a joke. Day job + commute took up a huge chunk of my time, even when I was consciously avoiding overtime hours. My focus in the later years of working for the man was to reach a point where I could quit the day job. So when I wasn’t working, I was thinking about writing, writing, or planning on how to write more, so I could get the income up high enough to quit.
I managed that feat in 2015 and have been writing full time ever since. Actually, I’ve been writing full time + a whole lot more, ever since.
When you’re writing full time, it’s not just the need to get stories out into the world that drives you. Like most new entrepreneurs, I also spent 12 and 14 hour days getting more and more work done, because I had bills to pay and a deep fear that I wouldn’t be able to pay them if I dared take a day off. Unlike small businesses in other industries, publishing isn’t a lucrative gig, unless you’re one of the 0.005% of the industry and rub shoulders with JK Rowling and Stephen King. The rest of us scrape by.
But I’ve been scraping by for six years in December. And this year of horrid, non-negotiable deadlines and long term sprinting has taught me that the pace I’ve been pushing for, oh, a couple of decades now, just can’t go on.
You’ve watched the train wreck that was my last few months. You can read about most of it in my work logs going back to… Well, you can see the pressure building from the start of the year, really. Just scanning the headlines for the work logs paints its own picture.
In late May I had a serious health scare, which instantly restructured my priorities and the rest of this year (so far) has been dealing with that health crisis, and also getting books out.
The health scare has forced me to reconsider my writing workload. I’ve had to face up to the fact that having a life outside writing is more than just important. NOT having a life can kill you. Not just metaphorically. Not only by grinding down your psyche. It can actually bring your life to an end.
Don’t wait for a scare or a crisis to hit and force you to make changes. Make them now.
You know exactly what you should be doing. We all do. The messages do reach us, but we choose to ignore them while we get on with our personal and off-balance priorities.
If your diet sucks, if you don’t exercise/exercise enough, if you don’t squeeze down-time into your day, if you don’t spend time with friends and family, if you don’t have interests outside reading & writing, if you’re going without sleep to write, then you need to make changes.
If you sit for hours at a time without moving, learn to write in snatches and make yourself get up at least once an hour and stretch.
Or switch to a standing desk.
All the things you “should” be doing are sitting there, at the back of your brain, where you’ve been trying to ignore them for months, possibly years, because they would interfere with your writing/life.
I’m urging you to stop ignoring that nagging voice and make changes. Now. Today.
Will your overall word output take a hit from trying to squeeze all these necessities into your life?
Yes and no.
Next week, I will talk more about how to actually go about juggling writing with everything else. There are some surprising upsides.