I know I’m supposed to be wrapping up the Fantasy Bible tips in my post today, but something else has come to light. Namely, that my post was supposed to happen yesterday and I completely forgot about it. Why? Because I was too caught up with life. It’s a lame excuse, but it is the truth.
Which brings me to the topic today. As we continue down our writerly paths and writing becomes more of a career, complete with responsibilities and deadlines, how do we balance it? That’s one of the most common questions I ask when I interview other authors for blog tours: How do you balance your writerly life with your non-writerly life?
It isn’t all fun and games and social media. When you commit to a blog post, you need to stick to it. When you sign up for a blog tour, you need to make sure you don’t double book and that you post on time. When you get to the point of publishing your book, you will have deadlines to stick to (this is true for traditional and non-traditional publishing). You’ll need to connect to your audience and engage them through social media. Once you join a critique group, you’ll need to do your fair share and read your partners’ works as well. And you still need to be writing and reading.
Overwhelmed yet? Understandable. But we can’t just spend our lives in front of our laptop screens, even if it seems like our writerly lives demand it of us. We have friends, family, kids, jobs…Sometimes the list of responsibilities we have can be daunting.
So here are some tips to help strike a balance (like I failed to do yesterday):
- Keep a calendar. When you make commitments of any kind, view those as appointments and put them on your calendar. I use Google calendar to keep my blog tour dates straight. I even color-code it so I know which posts I need to write and which have already been written. If I commit to review a book, I also put the deadline on the calendar and set reminders. Make a habit of checking your calendar at least once a day to make sure you are on top of the tasks for the week.
- Stay organized. This doesn’t just include files on your desktop. It’s very important that you keep your email clean and orderly as well. If you engage in blog tours and critique groups, create separate folders to hold those emails. You’d be surprised how often you’ll need to go back and reference them, and this helps cut down on the search time. This is also a good way to keep up with social media. I have a folder for Twitter followers. When I get an email notifying me of a new follower, I put it in that folder so I can go back and check them out later (I never auto-follow).
- Give yourself a break. Writing isn’t just a hobby for most of us. It is a job. So this means that if you are setting out to edit or write for the day, you need to make sure you are giving yourself breaks, just like you would take at an onsite job. Walk away from your computer for an hour to do something else.
- Don’t neglect yourself. This goes along with the breaks, but it needs a point of its own. It is way too easy to forget to eat, or spend your day imprinting your couch cushion with your butt. You need to take care of yourself. Make a real meal. Go jump on the treadmill or take a walk. Just make sure you are still taking care of you.
- Give yourself a day off. Most people get these with their so-called “9-5” gigs. You should get them too. Spend some time with your friends. Go out and be social. Your writerly world will still be there tomorrow. (And if you fear it won’t, you can still stay connected with your phone, but no more!)
- Have an end of day. For some people, there’s no getting around this. Once the kids get home from school or the spouse gets home from work, the laptop gets put away. Family should always come first. But if you don’t have someone (or ones) forcing you to end your writing shift, do it yourself. If you keep running from morning til night, you are eventually going to run on empty and get burned out. And this will also help to ensure you don’t forget about commitments if you make sure all your work is done before your “end of shift”.
Doing these things might seem like no-brainers, but it is easy to let some of them slip by the wayside. What are you guilty of when it comes to writing?