Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shift the Balance in Your Direction

Sometimes I feel like Clark Kent with his secret identity thing going on. I’m the type of person who gets carried away with the whole superhero idea, thinking that I can take on the world while doing this balancing act of having a full-time job, being an active church member, daughter, sister, outdoorswoman, blogger, book reader, pianist and novelist too. 

You see, by day, I’m a staff reporter and journalist, writing the news for my hometown newspaper. My secret life begins when I leave the office for the day. I become a fiction writer, pulling fantasy worlds from my head and living vicariously through the characters that inhabit them. 

Fiction is my first love, it’s my passion. I love being a story teller, sharing adventures of made-up people who live in made-up places through the written word. Someday I hope to be able to write fiction full-time. But there’s tons of other stuff that holds my interest as well and, in the meantime, I have to hold down a day job to make a living.

Sometimes, a full-time job can be a real drain, creatively speaking. But the newspaper I work at is understaffed and I wear more than my share of hats – as does everyone who works there. It’s common to work over 40 hours each week. And then there seems like there are so few hours left over by the time I get off work to do much of anything else.

I’ve been told that I’m one of the lucky ones. I get paid for crafting words, day-in and day-out. At my little newspaper, I already have readers. And the thing is, I enjoy my work and am fairly good at writing the news.

Because of this, I sometimes feel like I get a complex and have a hard time deciding how to balance everything. When I first started my newspapering job, it was difficult to get my brain to switch back and forth between the two styles. Even now it seems that I’m constantly struggling to find the balance.

But it’s not entirely impossible.

I’ve got two tips for today about figuring out how to accomplish your writing goals.

The first one is: Write. Don’t quit.

There really is no secret to writing, no magic trick or anything. It’s simply a lot of work. You’ve got to put your head down and keep on keeping on.

The second tip is this: schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule.

I feel that there is always something you can do to make time for your writing, whether that’s cutting back on the amount of television you watch or getting up earlier and going to bed later to squeeze in a few extra hours at the key board.*

*But be sure to know your limits and don’t push yourself too far. I’ll cover this top in an upcoming post.

Whatever you do, you’ve got to figure out how to shift the balance of life in your favor.

Erica Jong says, “Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.”

Although I’ve been writing since grade school, I feel like my journey is just beginning. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes and am finding that defining what those mistakes are is sometimes the hardest thing.

It can be scary to follow your talent, but oh-so rewarding too.

What struggles do you face daily with writing creatively? Do you know where your talent is leading you right now? Are you brave enough to follow it to that place of possibilities?


  1. Great Post Amanda! I like how you word your second tip: "schedule your priorities, don't prioritize your schedule."

    That is something I must think about today.

  2. Jane, we often get so busy in life that we let "stuff" dictate what we do and forget about what is really important. As always, I appreciate your comment!

  3. Also, shouldn't that be "outdoorswoman"? ^_^

  4. Loved this, Amanda. Straight forward advice that we tend to forget in the emotional tides of writing.


    1. Thank you for the comment and for following Bethany!

  5. "Schedule your priorities, don't prioritize your schedule." That's good stuff!

    1. But isn't it the truth!? Too many times we find ourselves looking at the calendar, trying to figure out how we're going to fit something else in.

      Thanks for commenting and for visiting!

      (Nice to have met you on Twitter too!)

  6. Amanda,

    This was a great post. Your words of wisdom rang true throughout. I have been on a stretch of scheduled insanity for a long time and will be getting my first real "break" in a few weeks. Two and a half months off from the chaos of what has become normalcy is going to be very welcomed.

    Much can be said about "....don't prioritize your schedule." I have managed to get a better understanding of what life as annindependent author may look like over the past few weeks, but in maintaining all of the craziness of social networking, I fear I have abandoned the essence of what has been my greatest skill and passion for almost fifteen years -- writing.

    I look forward to checking out some more of your posts.


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m really glad that you enjoyed this post and am happy that you’ll be coming back!

      Trust me when I say that I know all about scheduled insanity. Writing is a full-time task, and it’s difficult at best to try balancing that, plus a full-time job, family life, other interests, etc. etc. Then, when you throw social networking and blogging in on top of all that, true craziness ensues.

      I’ve been lucky so far with blogging. The more I write, the more inspired I am to write. That’s where the blog has been great. But the networking – while I love the people that I’m meeting – is dangerously taxing on my time. I’m still figuring out a schedule that actually works, but as long as I’m alive and kicking, you can be sure that I will be trying!

      Make sure never to give up on your writing! If you’ve even thought about starting out on this journey, this writer’s life, then that means that being a writer is at the very core of your being. Don’t lose that. Ever.

      All my best!


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