Finding Balance

Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. This post is going to be short and (hopefully) sweet. Many writers and would-be authors around the world are knee-deep in NaNoWriMo.

While I chose not to take part this year, I have done it in the past. It’s not something you just decide to do. No matter if you’re a plotter or a panster, to succeed at this 50K word challenge, you have to plan and find the right balance to succeed.

NaNo aside, writers have to make time to write. Many of us hold full-time jobs. We have families. There are social events to attend. And unless you’re independently wealthy and can afford a house full of servants, there are a variety of household chores to do. Somewhere in all that, we need time to sleep. Is it any wonder we’re often lucky to have three or four hours per week at the most to write?

Even during our writing time, other things are involved. Most of us also blog. We enjoy supporting other authors by visiting and commenting on their blogs. We share things on social media. We respond to comments on our own blogs. And you know what happens to even the best-laid plans…

We want be balanced like this.

But more often feel like this

No one enjoys living on the edge. (Okay, maybe some people do.) So how do we manage? Here are a few helpful tips.

  • Set aside a specific time to write. Don’t waver (except for emergencies). Stay away from social media. If staying off the internet is a problem, consider an internet blocking software.
  • Don’t spend time with endless research. Do that ahead of time. It’s too easy to go down a rabbit trail.
  • Turn off notices on your phone. These can distract because you’re often tempted to respond.
  • Don’t read. This includes blogs and books.
  • Turn off the television. This isn’t a problem for me as I’m not a TV person, but for some watching their favorite show is tempting. If you feel you “must” watch, rearrange your writing time or record the show to watch later.
  • Write in sprints. Thirty minutes at a time can work wonders. If you work outside the home, use your lunch time to write.
  • Turn off the internal editor. Easier said than done for some of us, but if you’re facing a deadline, it’s important to get the words written. Deal with the edits later.
  • I haven’t tried this one, but use dictation software or buy a small recorder. Dictate as you drive. I have a friend who uses her iPhone to dictate words while she’s on the treadmill.

What are some tips you would add? Please share in the comments.

82 thoughts on “Finding Balance

  1. Good advice, Joan. It IS all about balance. I’m gradually cutting down on the distractions and displacement and for a couple of minutes I’m a wobbly ballerina. I do feel that I’m coming out of a long boggy tunnel and wish I’d been more sensible during the first lockdown and actually used the time to do some uninterrupted writing. Then again, I think the whole Covid nightmare has made it difficult for lots of us to adapt and settle. I do feel spurred on by this blog. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Great tips, Joan. For me, in general, setting a time aside for an activity tends to work, and in my case, early morning (first thing is possible) is the best, as not only do I get it done, but I also feel better knowing that I can carry on with the rest of the day and have already achieved some of my goals for the day. (I’m not pursuing my writing at the moment, but I try to exercise and meditate every morning, and start the day on a positive note). Good luck to everybody with their writing and keep safe.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Slipping in under the wire here to share Joan Hall’s great post on Story Empire today, all about “Finding Balance.” Tricky for anyone, but somehow, even more so for many writers. Check out Joan’s helpful tips for ways to balance your job and personal life with your writing time. I’m sure you’ll find some ideas that will be of help you with that. I did! And don’t forget (as always) to pass this one along on your social media so others can benefit as well. Thanks, and thanks to Joan for some super ideas! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. All great advice Joan. NaNo has forced me to commite to writing a certain amount almost daily. I find its doable, even if I don’t push the story ahead one day I get to know the characters better. Although outside of NaNo I’d attempt less eords a day. I haven’t tried recording my ideas either. It would be great for long drives.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The only dictation I’ve done is speaking into my notes app if I have an idea while driving. Believe me, although it only takes about thirty minutes for me to drive to work, I’d forget something by the time I got there. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Great tips, Joan. Finding balance is definitely a must. I carve out time in the morning when my mind is awake and thoughts are fresh, on most days of the week. Weekend schedules are different depending on social plans. Your photos are great, and yes, we can’t neglect chores and sleep. 🙂 Happy writing, Lauren 💕

    Liked by 3 people

  6. These are great tips. I think we all have to find our own way, but some of these work for me. I’ve become more of a lurker on social media than a participant. I’ve been sharing everything, but don’t often go there to share any of my things. It has bought me time and tends to keep me calmer.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It’s all about choices and give and take, isn’t it? Some things are more tempting than others, but I can almost always decide to write when I’m supposed to clean the house or weed the flower beds:) When a kid or friend calls, though, well…what can I say? Discipline might not be my strong point.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Finding balance in this crazy writer’s life is not an easy task, Joan. I most often fit the scenario of the house tipping off the edge of the cliff. I try to do it all and ALL is impossible. So, something has to go. I am not a TV person, so that’s not an issue for me. Social media is my biggest time suck, but as marketers of our work, we have to be present or folks forget about you in a flash. So, I try. And I try. And I tip off the edge more often than not. Thank you for sharing the tips. Have a great Monday!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Great tips, Joan. Like the others, I often feel like that house on the precipice. Actually, it’s rare when I don’t, LOL!
    I have a dedicated time for writing and try to stick with that schedule, but it’s become more difficult lately. Definitely freeing up time from social media is a huge plus.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Excellent tips, Joan. I think that’s the biggest challenge for writers: balance. It’s not easy to juggle a gazillion things, but it goes with the gig. Awhile back I revamped a new schedule and it works beautifully as long as I stick with it. If I veer away from it (like last Friday when I missed a StoryEmpire post), my whole day gets thrown off schedule. Can’t think of any tips to add, except social media management tools. They help to keep our audience engaged while we’re busy writing.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I love your recommendations, Joan. Much too often, I do the opposite and regret it later. You’ve inspired me to harness my unruly characters and stay the course. Thank you!

    Liked by 5 people

  12. Laughing at myself here … I don’t like dictation, and I can’t imagine not reading for a while! lols. All great tips, Joan. I would add not to share those early words / that first draft with anyone, no matter how excited you feel. Your baby book is way too fragile at this stage. Thanks for sharing, Joan 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

  13. What a good idea to dictate while doing something else. I’d not thought of that.
    I decided not to do NaNo this year, although I’ve done it for the past few years. Last year I found so many things came up that stopped me fulfilling my daily word count. Now, though, with Covid-19 and our 2nd lockdown in England, I suspect I could have managed it. We’re not going out nor visiting family. Just to the shops for food and medication and exercise.

    Liked by 6 people

  14. Some good tips and tricks here. I’d never thought about using my iPhone for dictating before! I block out the time in my diary – once it’s in there it has to be treated like any other appointment. I must admit that it’s been looking a little empty of writing of late as I deal with that stuff called ‘life’. Work really gets in the way of a lot of things!!

    Liked by 5 people

    • I like the idea of setting an appointment. My writing time this year has sucked. I worked from home for five weeks in the spring and I thought saving the commute time would give me more time to write. While it did, I found that the drive home helped me unwind from the day and thus be energized for writing. Thanks so much for stopping by, Sarah.

      Liked by 2 people

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