Guest Post: Connor Griffin
A Balancing Act
I think the biggest thing that I, and many others, struggle with as writers is trying to spend time with our craft while remaining a functioning member of society. Unfortunately, I’ve found that there is no simple answer to this problem. Like most major issues of time management, this problem has a unique solution for each and every individual. The best thing to do is to try experimenting with different things until you find an arrangement between your responsibilities as an adult and your passion for writing.
Now i realize that hearing that might not leave you feeling very encouraged. It can be a truly daunting situation; especially if writing is your way of relaxing and you desperately need that time. believe you me, i have been (and usually am) in the same position that you may be in right now.
After working for 8 hours a day you come home to household responsibilities such as; making dinner, doing dishes, giving the pets/children (same thing right?) the attention the deserve, spending time wit your significant other, ensuring enough clean clothes to be presentable tomorrow, that personal hygiene thing, and getting your doctor recommended 8 hours of sleep. And yet somewhere in there you’re desperately wanting to find time to read/write for more than three minutes and keep your blood pressure below 140/90 in the process.
I wish i could tell you otherwise, but the truth is you’re simply not going to accomplish all of that in a 24hr day. which leads me to my first tip for fitting writing into your day:
Pick your battles.
If you’re going to have any chance of fitting writing into your daily schedule, learning which battles to fight is an absolute must. this particular tactic is an incredibly difficult one for people like myself who are self-described “neat freaks” and seem completely incapable of sitting down to something as simple as pleasure work while there is a sock sitting on the bedroom floor.
Much like i am learning, you have to realize that, that dirty sock on the floor or dishes in the sink will not bring on the apocalypse if they are not put in their respective cleaning appliance. it will be okay if you leave it for 30-45 minutes while you sit at your desk and write a few pages. trust me, it will still be there when you’re done.
I know that it can be incredibly overwhelming and disheartening to walk into a dirty house after a long days work. It can be incredibly stressful and is definitely a hindrance when it comes to your creative process having that in the back of your mind all the time. Sometimes though, you just have to force yourself to look past it all. it will be a struggle at first, but gradually it will get easier to leave a particular battle for another day. Forfeiting the sock battle does not mean your dirty house will win the war.
In many cases, taking that 30-45 minutes a day will actually help you get through the rest of your to do- list. Taking some time to do what you enjoy before you get to work on the chores will make the latter a lot easier to get through. think about it: If you do chores first, you’ll be grumbling the whole time about how it’s going to take up all of your time and you won’t be able to get to the things you enjoy. On the other hand; if you do your pleasure work first, then you’ll breeze through the chores while your mind is free to evaluate the work you just did, making tomorrow’s writing even more organized and productive.
Once you master the art of choosing which battles to fight, you can move on to the next tip:
Schedule a time for writing/be a slave
It’s important to make time for writing, that much is obvious. if you wait for the “right time” however, it will never arrive. there will always be things you could be doing instead of writing. If writing is truly important to you, then you need to make time for it. some people can get away with setting a goal of 30-45mins a day. Other people actually need to enter it into their calendar in order to make it actually happen.
The most important thing to remember about this tip? DON’T SKIP OVER IT. You scheduled it for a reason. You wouldn’t skip over your 2 o’clock meeting your boss would you? you need to treat your scheduled writing time the exact same way.
My fiancee, a contestant in the miss America organization, was told by a pageant friend to become more of a slave to her hair. Obviously her hair already looks really good (she got runner-up in the miss Washington pageant this last July- I’m quite proud:) ) but if she were to become a slave to it, it would become even better. Now I realize that comparing writing to beauty pageant hairstyles might seem like a little bit of a stretch, but stay with me here. Just like she should become a slave to her hair, we should become a slave to our writing and this is why:
Obviously you can write decently even if you’re only writing once or twice a week. We get by. But you don’t want to be decent writers do you? Or simply get by? Obviously not if you’re taking the time to read this. if we become true slaves to our passion and make the time to write each and every day, think of how much our writing would improve! i guarantee that the more you write, the better your writing will be. much like riding a bike, once you learn you’ll never forget – but you’ll never when the tour de France with that mentality.
I realize that this is all easier said than done, and that makes the last tip the hardest but most important.
I know. Way easier said than done. but likewise this is the most crucial aspect of finding that balance between your career, home-life, and writing. I cannot tell you how important it is not to get stressed out about all of this. I’ve learned that hard way, multiple times that there is absolutely nothing as devastating to your creative process than being stressed out about it.
If you stress out about trying to fit those few minutes of writing in, by the time you actually sit down to do it, you’re mind will be a frustratingly blank slate. that in turn obviously adds to your stress level and you find yourself in a never-ending catch-22. You’re stressed because you want to write, but you can’t write because you’re stressed.
Like I said at the beginning of the post, this problem is one that affects every writer no matter what level they write at. each and every person is going to have a slightly different way of dealing with. the tips and stories i told are by no means going to guarantee you find the time. they are merely guidelines for you to try based off of what works (sometimes) for me. You’re going to have to tweak them to fit your own lifestyle and then add a little bit of your own ingenuity to the process but eventually you’ll figure it out. just remember: Don’t get too stressed out and never give up!
If you ever want to talk it over or hear some other tips and tricks that I’ve come across drop a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll get back to you within 12 hours. I hope this has helped you in some way!