Keeping It On The Level

Authors wage a constant battle—besides the one going on with the characters living in their minds: the battle of balance. Keeping life in balance while makinscales-justiceg a living and getting those pages written.

This struggle isn’t exclusive to writers. We all fight the same thing: the family needs more time today, but your schedule is already full; or the baby is sick and the only time the doctor can work you in is 3:05pm, but you have a critical meeting at 3pm; or you haven’t written a word for two weeks, you’ve taken a day off to write, and your boss needs you to cover an out of town presentation. You get the idea.

Writing fiction is my job and I love it. I get to make things up for a living – how great is that?! But my neighbors still have a hard time understanding that I can’t take a two-hour drive just to try a new place for lunch. I really am working up here.

Spinning WheelI just returned from a weekend trip that combined a writing conference with visiting friends. While I had a lot of fun, and made some great contacts and new friends, I lost four writing days. And I can’t just turn off the world for the next couple of weeks to get caught up. So I end up spinning my creative wheels and beating myself about the head and shoulders for not getting more done, which doesn’t help my productivity OR make me feel any better. lolbubble bath

The toughest challenge for me, as a fulltime, self-employed writer, is keeping my priorities in what I consider proper order – family, then self, then work. (That second one is always the toughest one!)

There are days when the order of priority changes. Sometimes work has to take the lead, and putting myself first on occasion saves my sanity. But for the most part, I try to remember what’s really important.

I’m learning to set my daily goals and expectations so I can keep things in perspective. And I try to remember that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes – it helps keep me ‘on the level.’

How about you? Are you successful in keeping a balance between work, play and family? What do you do to take care of yourself?

Tracy Garrett
History, Texas, cowboys, horses—these are a few of Tracy’s favorite things. Check out her westerns at www.TracyGarrett.com.

21 Comments

  1. Hi Tracy! I like your pictures, especially the spinning wheel 🙂 Isn’t this life crazy sometimes? I know just what you mean about balance. I learned early on (painfully I might add) that I have to eat right, get enough sleep and exercise in order to keep on track. That “self” part really is the hardest. Hang in there!

  2. Oh, Tracy ~ This is a constant struggle, isn’t it? The most difficult part for me is getting back into the writing after I’ve been away from it. It takes time to reaquaint myself with the creative side of my brain since my “day job” is very much science and fact oriented. It certainly is a balancing act!

  3. So true. I have two boys playing both soccer and baseball this season, a duaghter involved in weekend math tournaments, a full-time day job, church responsibilities, and a husband who likes some attention every now and again. Add writing into the mix and things get crazy in a hurry.

    Balance is so important. And having a supportive and understanding family is a blessing beyond words. Oh, and an occasional bowl of ice cream helps, too. LOL

  4. Vicki, I still don’t have a handle on that exercise thing. 🙂 But I’m trying.

    Kathryn, I hear what you’re saying. Some days I just stare at my computer screen, thinking ‘come on, this is the only time you have today, get creative.’ It doesn’t work very well, does it?

  5. Karen, my life is nuts enough. I can’t even imagine adding children into the mix. Ice cream, huh? For me its chocolate.;)

  6. Boy, Tracy, you said it. It’s a constant struggle. I must admit this blog has really hit home with me. Wow, Tracy. Thanks for bringing up a very tough subject to conquer. 🙂

  7. Karen, it seems to be on a lot of folks’ minds right now–it’s been the topic conversation on several writer loops the last two weeks. And with the school semester almost half over, and summer looming, I imagine the pressures on moms is only increasing.

  8. ah tracy–that’s why i could never be a writer! i could never be creative on a schedule
    guess that’s why i’m a reader 🙂

    i always have to remind myself to just “be” with my kids instead of multi-tasking all the time
    i think it’s important to take time to live in the moment–whatever you lot is in life

  9. I don’t do the balancing act very well! Sometimes I just feel like I am spinning a wheel! I use to not take time for myself but i do now! My reading time is my time for myself! Sometimes it means letting something go but so be it. I have learned that if the house just gets the swiffer duster ran on the tables instead of the pledge, you can make do!

  10. Tabitha, that’s an excellent point. Just be. Multitasking has become such a way of life, we sometimes forget it isn’t a requirement for living.

    And always remember, without readers there’d be no reason for us to be creative. 🙂

  11. Amen, Quilt Lady! I’m one of those who believes that dusting is a total waste of time. It just comes back. 😀 Besides, I can always run a quick cloth over the tables before company arrives.

  12. Tracy, the person you descibed in your blog is me. I just don’t know how you knew all those things about me. LOL Finding balance is such a difficult thing no matter what kind of work you do. At least it is for women. Personally, I don’t think men have this problem. Like Vicki, the main thing I have a problem with is taking care of me. I really need to exercise but I just never seem to have the time. That’s not good for someone who sits at the computer all day. But I haven’t figured out yet to squeeze exercise into the hours of the day. And I’ve developed a horrible habit over the last six months…I have to have something to snack on when I’m at the computer. And the thing I want is candy and Cheez-It crackers. Nothing healthy at all. I just can’t seem to break this bad habit and it’s driving me crazy.

  13. Linda, we have the same taste in snacks. I console myself with the fact that there is some protein in CheezIts. 😀

  14. Tracy,

    You took on the tough subject here. You are so right about trying to balance all these things. I take my writing serious and so does my family.

    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post. It makes a writer think but it also proves you can do anything you set your mind to.

    Walk in harmony,
    Melinda

  15. Is ANYONE successful in keeping life in balance? When I worked full time, I longed for the day to “just stay home and write.”

    Now I’m home and working freelance – sort of – not really staying so busy I can’t find time to write, but just can’t seem to settle in and write as I thought I would!

    I know a lot of this has to do with still grieving over my husband’s death in August, but some of it is just plain old not knowing what to do next – and frustration over the whole shebang!

    I have managed to keep my Premium Promotional Service clients/boss happy and have done a bit of non-fiction writing – just can’t seem to get a grip on romance writing right now.

    Alas, I know it’ll come in God’s time (not mine).

    Until then I keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing what I can & when overwhelmed, walk away.

    As for taking care of myself, I’m doing A LOT of that right now – spending more and more time with God and famils/friends.

    Linda mentioned exercise – that’s important too although I haven’t been able to walk as much as I like due to weather – will be SO glad when Spring/Summer get here and it STOPS RAINING LOL!

    One thing I did was buy an aerobic step and set it in my office and try to get up several times a day and “step” 50 – 100 times EACH time my butt leaves the chair.

    Great concept and most days do OK but still something to stay conscious of.

    Wonderful post!

    PamT

  16. Melinda, I tend to agree. My problem is when I want to do something and it just doesn’t work out–then I get cranky. Something I still have to work on.

  17. Pamela, when I moved to be near my family, leaving all my friends 9 hours away, I didn’t get much written. For a year, I didn’t do much besides promo the book that was coming out. And that’s nothing compared to what you are going through. It took a long time, but I’ve learned not to beat myself up over what I don’t get done, but to be grateful for the things I do. I’m glad to hear you’re keeping your friends and family close. God bless!

  18. Hi Tracy, great blog. I’m trying for balance, figuratively and literally. My Wii-Fit Plus is helping me with the physical thing. Although I have a ways to go. And I do feel so quilty when the days happen that I can’t write a word. Last and best, hubby is retired and actually loves hanging out with me.

    The hardest time I have is promo.

    But I made the mistake of waiting to write seriously until the kids went away to college. I waited Too Long. You writers out there, don’t put it off! Write and submit! oxoxoxoxox

  19. I’m a stay-at-home grandmother, so that leaves out
    concern for work! My family members all ( sibs &
    children) live with 30 minutes of here, so I speak
    to sibs at least once a week, to the children and
    grandchildren 2/3 times a week. Visits to & from
    the children are usually on a weekly basis. As for
    Honey and myself, we keep ourselves busy as members of our parish choir and spend time on our computers to exercise our minds. I also am a Minister of the Word, reading scripture to our congregation several times a month.

    Pat Cochran

  20. Lol, Tanya. I’m not sure there is a “perfect” time to start. We just do get to it when the time is right, I think.

  21. Pat, that’s the kind of balance I’m still striving for. You’re an inspiration!

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