Tuesday, May 22, 2012

4 Simple Truths to Balance Life and Writing

I’m a busy person. I’m sure you are too, but I mean, I’m a really, really busy person. The only thing I can think of that could make my life more hectic right now is having kids.

Not right now, thank you.

Because I’m so busy, I know I’ve got to make the most of the time that I do have, which seems like so little. There are a few things I’ve figured out to try to stretch those precious moments as far as I can and to get more words per minute out of my keyboard.

Stress kills creativity.

I think of stress as an invading army that your mind has to fight off. During a siege, my subconscious pulls the drawbridge up and fills the moat to the brim with crocodile-infested waters to try to protect myself. So while the enemy – life – is attacking my castle gate, my imagination is tucked away safely behind sealed doors.

Unfortunately, I’m also locked out of my creative thoughts at times like this.

The toughest thing about having a life outside of writing is getting random ideas and not being allowed to address those spurts of inspiration. And then, by the time you do have time to write, you’re so frazzled from the day’s events that you could care less.

Know your priorities.

You need to purge your life every now and then. Find out what is really still important to you, what still really matters. Humans are forever changing and growing. Their priorities shift. And that’s fine. That’s the way God made us.

But what’s not okay is to think that you’re not allowed to change your mind now and then. It can be totally wrong to chase after a dream that doesn’t even pull your heart strings any more. That’s why it’s good practice to stop and evaluate every now and then. Take time to write out a list even.

Once I learned the trick to getting rid of excess baggage, I found that I was able to breathe freer and finally allowed myself time to relax so I could more easily create when I did have time.

You have got to have a plan.

The best way I can think of to get more creative is to free yourself of extra obligations.

But it won’t do any good to make a list or figure out what your priorities are if you have no idea how to act on them.

You need to make a plan and be ready to work for that plan so you don’t fall into old habits. Set a schedule and make yourself stick to it, no matter how hard it is. If this recovering procrastinator can overcome her urge to sleep-in every day, then you can too.

For instance, when I started taking myself serious as a writer and at the pre-launch of this blog, I forced myself to get up two hours early every day and write an excess number of evergreen posts. Then I planned out in what order I would publish those posts.

By doing this, I freed myself creatively from stress so I could more easily produce quality posts on a deadline each week.

Always, always keep in mind that writing is work.

Don’t ever let yourself be fooled into thinking otherwise. Writing truly is work, plain and simple.

For me, writing is a dragon with which I must do battle daily. If I sit down every day, face the dragon head on and fight, I have a chance of winning. But if I don’t write, if I turn my back, the beast will chase me all day long.

If you are a true writer, your craft cannot and will absolutely refuse to be put on a back burner. If you try to, like I have before, the guilt of not writing will slowly wear you down to an emotional pulp.

What are some ways that you balance your writing and your life outside of the craft?


  1. Great advice! Yes, writing is such hard work and so worth the effort. It takes discipline and, as you said, planning ahead. I would venture to say, those days you don't feel like writing are the days it's imperative to sit and write. I wrote a post about that recently (I'm on a 30 Days of Truth writing challenge- a post every day for 30 days straight!)

    Again, great post! Thanks!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read the post! I like what you say about the days you don't feel like writing. It is important to keep on keeping on no matter how much you hate it at the time. I've said before that I'm going to quit writing because it's too much work and friends and family tell me that they know I won't because I couldn't stand it!

      Good job on the 30 Days of Truth challenge! For now, I'm posting once a week... maybe later this year I'll try a 30 day challenge :)

      Thanks again!

  2. Great post Amanda. I love the first tip -- how stress affects creativity.

  3. Great post! Sometimes my writing and my life outside the words don't play well together, I like your tip about stress! Thank you for taking the time to put this together and share it!

    1. Sure thing! I'm glad you enjoyed it and thanks for commenting :) Great to meet you too!

  4. Thanks for sharing these tips, Amanda. They're inspiring. And what a great use of imagery! Nicely written.

    1. Thank you Molly! I'm glad you found inspiration here :) Great hearing from you again!

  5. Amanda I could have sworn I commented on this post. Apparently I'm losing my mind! lol but I read it the other day (and again today) and it's so on point- really great tips. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Katie! I really appreciate you following me :) You're doing a great job over at your blog too - keep up the good work! Very uplifting stuff there.

  6. I'm not a full time writer, and even I know stress will fry all your creative juices, like a drop of water on hot concrete.

    Lovely piece!

    1. Simple, but awesome imagery there! A single droplet of water, under the scrutiny of the sun, sizzles away into nothingness.

      Thank you for the comment!

  7. What is this "stress" thing you speak of????


    You're exactly right, and it's often difficult to find that proper balance. I think I teeter the line a couple times per day, but rarely find the mark and stay there.

    Keep it up!


    1. Haha - finding that balance is hard. Seems whenever I do find that point, something else comes up, so I'm constantly shifting to compensate.



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