Writing and Life Balance

FMWriters is traveling the web via the Merry Go Round Blog Tour. Site members have grouped together to write monthly on themed topics and turn the blog tour concept on its head: we’re not the ones touring: you are, as you read one writer’s perspective after another. This is my contribution to the Merry Go Round Tour. Enjoy your ride. ~ Dawn

When I graduated college and was job/career hunting, and writing took up most of my time, I had a lot of fun with it. I was casual and reckless with my midnight to three am writing sessions. Unfortunately, as creative as my stories were, they were lacking something I now know is depth.

These days, I’ve got the depth and the life experience. The trouble is I no longer have the luxury of spending hours writing and staying up all night on a whim (although I will do it for a deadline if it comes that close). I’m a responsible adult with a house, pets, kids, husband, career, and family. These all require time and energy that will sap my creativity if I don’t plan well. For instance, on the days I try to work out during lunch, I lose my lunch time writing, and my afternoon writing session (because working out during lunch means taking a shower and drying my hair before returning to the office and that time needs to be made up). If I lose my lunchtime writing and my after work writing because of a workout, then that leaves evening writing. To be honest? I’d rather slam my head into a brick wall than START my writing at 8:30pm when I’ve been up since 5:30 am living my life.

Does this sound familiar?

I keep trying to wake early, but the day job and parental responsibilities wipe me out. It’s a wretched circle of not working out so I can write during lunch and after work, then fighting the exhaustion to work out after dinner or in the morning. So something loses.

I’ve tried the Monday/Wednesday/Friday workout plan, but then I only get two solid days of writing time. I could do the opposite but then the workouts suffer.

Balance is difficult. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve faced.

Fortunately, I can write anywhere. I can write anytime. I don’t mind writing at night, but I can’t start with that as my first writing session. At least if I am able to take 10 – 15 minutes during the day and review my outlines and character notes, I can using driving time to prepare my frame of mind. It helps.

My six year old gets that I like to write. She does as well, and sometimes we’ll sit at the kitchen table together working on our separate stories. This is how I get writing done on the weekend (while the three year old naps).

What I really need to do is kick myself out of bed at 5am and work out right away. Then I’ll have lunch and after work AND evening time to write.

In the spirit of true balance and proving that it can work (and daring you to call me a liar!), I’m going to do it this week. I’m going to prove that just 30 minutes of fitness in the morning will reset my writing schedule. It helps I’m writing a novel now on a self-imposed deadline: I have momentum.

Here’s the plan: starting next week, Monday through Friday I will wake up at 5am. M/W/F I will either run or walk; T/TH I will train with my dumbbells. The first week I’ll probably be tired. But starting the second week, it should reestablish sleeping patterns which means quality sleep, and I’ll wake up refreshed and ready to go. The writing time will be awesome. No more guilt over the workout I skipped to get the next scene done.

So tell me: have you mastered balance? Have any tips to share? Or do you want to join the “I Want Balance!” Club?

Best of luck to you.

Stand by for many posts about running and writing and some 5am tweets proving I made it out of bed. 🙂

Today’s post was inspired by Forward Motion’s Merry-Go-Round topic “Writing and Balance With Life”.  If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read about their ideas, then check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour

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8 responses to “Writing and Life Balance

  1. You’ve got a wider notion of balance than I do — exercise is the first thing that gets dropped for me! Good luck with your 5 a.m. wake-ups!

    • It does for me too, which is why I’ve been feeling so unhealthy. I need to make sure it is a priority. I’ve seen first hand what too much sugar and not enough exercise can do. I do not want to experience what my mom’s dealing with. Prevention all the way…

  2. Wow, you’re managing way better than I did when my kids were that age. I was barely hanging together. I used to get my writing time by lying about meeting somebody for lunch and hiding out in my car in the parking lot for half an hour, and as for exercise — nope. My hat’s off to you, and best of luck with the new schedule.

    • Luckily, I work for a big enough company that I don’t need to explain where I’m going on my lunch break. Although, my laptop and I are frequently in the cafeteria ignoring the rest of the employees. 🙂

  3. I have no idea how people with kids and jobs get any writing done. Seriously, I admire your dedication.

    Good luck getting up earlier! That sounds like a good plan. I struggled with getting up early for a long time (I’m naturally a night person) but now it’s just what I do: get up and work out. Putting my exercise clothes in the bathroom, on the far side of the bedroom from the bed, has been a big help.

    • There’s a secret device, a time magnifier of sorts that you earn upon receiving your screaming infant. It highlights all the time you’ve lost, and now that you’re getting ALL THIS other stuff done, you realize just how efficient you are and what the HELL did you do with all that time you had before the kid came along?! So when you get 30 minutes, you do with it what you used to do in 3 hours.

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