We all know that writing can be both a solitary pursuit and one that takes an incredible amount of time. Honing one’s craft over hundreds and thousands of hours while sitting quietly in front of a notepad or computer screen is often time not spent out in the world, engaging with friends and loved ones.
It’s time where we’re happily lost in our own head, creating our own worlds during the time we’re not out living in the real one. Writing can be a dazzling, fulfilling, and meaningful time, but life can beckon and intrude into that space, and not always unfairly. Sometimes it’s life that must come first.
As Jennifer Hubbard wrote in her truly magical post about the topic:
Sometimes the writing desk is a solace, an escape from tedium or pain in daily life.
Sometimes writing is a celebration. Sometimes it’s a way to process painful truths.
Writing is a life examined, which is supposed to be a life worth living. But a life can’t be spent only writing.
Sometimes we put down writing for a while. Sometimes it refuses to be put down.
So how do you strike the right balance between writing and living? How do you know when it’s time for writing and time for life? How much living is necessary to be a good writer, and how much writing is necessary for you to live?
J.C. Martin says
I used to work full-time from 8 to 5, plus I had part-time commitments taking up at least 8 hours of my time every week. Now I've left my job extended my part-time hours to 4 days a week. I also have a schedule that includes allocated writing time as well as time to deal with everyday chores. I'm still earning enough to survive, and I'm enjoying my job much more, plus I have loads more time for writing! 🙂
Kathryn Magendie says
You know; I'm just going to say it:
I don't balance it at all. I'm a selfish and self-indulgent kind of writer, and that can make me a distant and self-centered wife and friend and blogger and twitterer and facebooker.
I SAY I want to balance my writing time with "Real Life Time," but in reality I'm not trying very hard to draw a line in the sand that says, "This is my Real Life time, and this is my Writing Time . . ."
Nope, instead, I am like the Type A driven executive who comes home too late while her husband/dogs has already had supper and the Type A executive stands in the kitchen, eating from the refrigerator, still thinking about work . . . and has to PUUUUUUULLLL herself into the "Living Room" as if through some weird invisible force-field . . . schhllurrp!
Hi Honey, I'm Home! and he looks so grateful, it both makes me sad and mad all at the same time.
Linda Godfrey says
Like George Costanza having no hand, I used to have no balance. My writing and associated activities took every waking moment, including some that I kidnapped from what should have been sleeping moments. Then one day cancer found I'd left the door open and let itself in. I learned balance fast, the hard way. Now I do not feel bad taking that hour for exercise or meeting friends for coffee or watching a movie with the Hub. I'm just glad I'm here years later to do these wonderful things. And my total output is somehow still the same!
Emma @ emmasota says
I've been blogging on this topic lately, too. I write outside the house for my day job, have a family, and am writing a book at night. For me, the most difficult thing is patience–I simply can't write my book as fast as I'd like to, because I'd also like to make sure that there's spaghetti on the table, clean clothes for my toddler, and that my pregnant body gets some sleep.
Chemist Ken says
After I come home from work, my family expects me to spend a certain amount of time with them in the evenings. (Damn leeches!) But every other minute I can spare goes to writing, even if it means less time to sleep. Not really much of a balance.
Layla Morgan Wilde says
Writing means the house is never clean.
I journal in fiction. It's therapeutic, so writing balances the rest of my life.
Sophia the Writer says
haha I just blogged about this. The only way I get all my writing in is by sacrificing sleep. And that's been getting hard to sustain after a few months…:(
I'm also leaving a really stressful job and taking less hours freelancing, so hopefully this will open up some time.
And sometimes life just gets TOO overwhelming – like we're going to move from a house to an apartment in the next month and I have to make a trip to Taiwan for ol' grandpa's birthday.
Sleep deprivation. That's the answer. I have three wonderful daughters with busy schedule from one field or court of something to another. My husband isn't well. I teach about 140 great students. There is little spare time except after the house finally falls silent or at least somewhat. This is when I write.