Having a Life vs. Writing

Yesterday, here in the Shenandoah Valley, we had one of those picturesque snowfalls. The view of the snow-covered mountains is incredible. I pause every time I walk past the door to the porch just to take it in. Snow also means work–cleaning the driveway, for example. I almost didn’t do that. I have a 4WD vehicle, after all. I could just back through the snow and go. One glance at the cleared, pristine driveways of my neighbors changed that. So, at the time I’d normally be sitting down to blog, I was outside shoveling.

That kind of repetitive work frees up my brain to think, so while I shoveled, I pondered a story that got rejected with a vague request for a rewrite and thought over comments from the most recent meeting of my critique group. Before I realized it, half the driveway was clear, and most of the sidewalk. (My house is on a corner lot, so I have twice the sidewalk of everyone else.) The bonus was I also had a clear idea about the rewrite and the critique group comments.

Time to sit down and write.

Well, the rest of the week, however, is full of outside obligations–two meetings about a web site I may become responsible for (not writing related), babysitting, a special reading sponsored by my writing group, SWAG, and my book club, the book for which I haven’t finished. I’m looking at the schedule, and I’m not seeing the time to write, edit, or revise, unless, of course, I want to burn the midnight oil, and that’s looking more likely. Good thing I don’t have a real job anymore.

All this is to say, no matter how much you plan to set aside the time to write–and I established a pretty strict schedule for the new year–real life is always there, commitments you’ve made and must honor. Well, the grandkids aren’t a commitment; they’re just plain fun and always adjust my perspective on life. Time spent with them is well-spent and something I look forward to with excitement.

It’s important to my writing, though, to have a life. On the Myers-Briggs scale, I’m a very high E, meaning I get energized by external stimuli. If I spend too much time at the computer in the world I’ve created, I become too insular and nothing works–writing, editing, or revising. It’s a balance, almost as precarious as what I had to do when I worked full-time and struggled to be the best at my job at the same time as I struggled to be a good friend and spouse. You’re always feeling guilty about one or the other.

Establishing that writing work schedule helped me strike the balance between real life and writing life, but it’s done nothing for feeling guilty when I’m writing or when I’m having a life.

How about you? How do you strike the balance between real life obligations and your writing life?

3 thoughts on “Having a Life vs. Writing

  1. Always tough to find that balance. There are so many competing obligations. I try to make sure I devote at least one hour a day to my fiction, and I remind myself that time spent maintaining my blog is also writing, and so serves my overall goal. Thanks for posting on a topic many of us struggle with daily.

  2. I don’t have a balance. It’s so hard to make myself have a life when all I want to do is sit at the computer with my time off. Since I don’t get much time during the week, when the weekend gets here I’m really torn. I want to put in a garden this year. But that’s going to mean I can’t be sitting at the computer at the same time. When I do give in and go outside, I get awesome photographs for Friday Fictioneers, exercise, and fresh air. Like you, my mind works at my stories even when my body is working at something else.

    But it doesn’t feel balanced because the magnet of my story always pulls no matter what else I’m doing. Even if I on one hand want to be doing that something else.

    • When I had the spouse and before he became a drunk, I was very lucky that he understood that I needed some time on the weekends to write. In fact, he’d get after me if I didn’t get after it. I’m convinced I’ll never find anyone like that again.

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