After a crazy two weeks of SKINNY launch activities, it seems a bit ironic for me to try to address the topic of balancing writing and life.  Frankly, I'm not doing a very good job of it these days.  I knew October was going to be hectic.  Not only was my debut young adult novel entering the world but, in my day job as a university administrator, I was also hosting a national conference for over three hundred educators - a culmination of almost two years of planning.  Throw in a major editorial overhaul for book two and presentations at several events, and the idea of "balance" quickly became, "What you talkin' about, Willis?"

I can share a couple of things that seem to help.

1.     Cultivate a work team that supports the dream.  If you work full time at a day job while you're writing, it's important to have their support.  Talk to them about your writing dream and give them periodic updates.  You don't need to bore them with all the details or ask them to read drafts, but including them now will be helpful later.  When you start seeing success, they will feel like they have been part of the journey all along.  I constantly tell my co-workers I need and appreciate their support, and it was wonderful to see my whole staff and their families show up in mass at the SKINNY launch party.  They shared in this accomplishment, just like they've experienced all the steps leading up to this point.

2.   Prioritize.  When it gets really bad, look at only the very next thing that has to be done.  If I'm completely overwhelmed, I can't focus on the big picture.  I can just do the next thing.  Maybe that "next thing" is five hundred words or taking out the trash, but accomplishing it is enough get me moving again.  

3.    Exercise your body to support your mind.  I've become quite addicted to my evening WALK/runs and am trying to turn them into RUN/walks.  At first it was a bit stressful to take precious time away from actually sitting in front of the computer, but I found this nightly ritual to completely support the mental process of writing.  Exercise gives me that buffer zone between the day job brain and the mindset I need to create a story.

4.    Use the gaps.  A writing friend recently told me she keeps her laptop always at the ready and even tries to jot down words on the newest manuscript when waiting to pick up her child from school.  While I'm not quite that disciplined, looking for natural spaces in the day is a great way to squeeze in some writing time.  

5.  Finally, appreciate the wonder.  I've said it before, but I can't stress enough the importance of celebrating success along the way.  Tiny steps or huge milestones.  Celebrate them all.

My Work Team (Celebrating at the SKINNY Launch)


Congrats on the launch!

I wish I could get better at writing in the trenches and cracks of life...I keep waiting for two hour hunks of time, and they don't seem to show up often enough:(

It's so great that you have that many people supporting you! Good list. This is something I need to work on...

#1 is very smart, and #3 is something I really need to start doing. So hard to get started & get into a routine, especially when one tiny hiccup can disrupt the routine and then I have to get it established again!
And #5--YES.

Finding balance as a writer and having a full-time gig can be a bit difficult, but as you mentioned, it can be done. Use of natural gaps is certainly a great idea.

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