The Juggling Act

Everyone has things going on in their lives: the day job, family, friends, obligations, crises, joys, inconveniences – things that suck up time.  Mom or Dad have to work, deal with the kids, cook, clean house, take said kids to sports practice, sell their fundraiser cookies or candy, carve out time for the spouse or significant other, find pockets of time to squeeze in
friends, maintain the car, maybe go to school, do homework, pay bills, balance the bank accounts, deal with medical stuff if there are health issues for a family member.  For writers, they have to do all that, plus write.

Everyone becomes a juggler.

I’ve found myself juggling more and more recently.  I work full-time at the day job, am webmaster for my site as well as, the writing site I co-founded with two close friends.  I’m writing and self-publishing a novella series.  I do the graphics work for the book covers, for the websites I handle.  I’m revising/re-writing a book, gearing up play bridesmaid for another close friend in December, working in a bit of time to read and review novels, doing the social networking thing to promote my work and sites.  Then there’s spending time with family and friends – contact with other people so that I don’t stagnant.  When I think of all the individual tasks glossed over that listing my head spins.

If someone told me five years that I’d be doing this much juggling, I’d have told them “yeah, right.”  Now, when someone mentions it I just give them a long suffering look that says, “I know, have pity on me, get me coffee — the good stuff – so I can keep at it.”

How can anyone get much done, let alone write a book, with so much to do?  Well, I’d say it’s simple but it isn’t.  It’s not complicated, either.  What you have to do is be flexible, be willing to make sacrifices, and think outside the hated box.  (The hated box is a blog entry for another day.)

There are times that I wish I were a hermit, someone who could hole up somewhere with no friends, no internet, no day job, no distractions.  I fantasize about all the work I’d get done, the stories I’d finish.  Then I start thinking of all the fun I’d miss out on, the inspirations I can’t witness, the human contact that encourages and spurs me on.  So I set aside the dream of being a recluse and continue to juggle.

Some might say I’m lucky, others might say that I’m not, because I’m not married nor do I have children to contend with.  Where I work, I have the option to work 10 hour days for three weeks in every month.  I put in my time at the day job, go home, answer e-mails, do the social networking deal, snatch some relaxing time because everyone needs a bit of down time to keep fresh.  Then I write, or work on graphics or website builds if I’m feeling up it; that’s 90% of my workday evenings.  On my days off, I write, read, network, deal with the websites, and schedule in social activities.

I stay up late working at home because I’m a night owl by nature, get up early because I an use time before shift at work to mull over plots and characters.  I use my breaks at work for  note-taking or research.  Since I’m blessed with friends who have similar interests, I can sometimes use our social time together to discuss writing issues or the state of the publishing industry.  On days off, I pack up the laptop and spend time – sometimes as long as 8 hours – at a coffee shop, fueling myself with coffee and baked goods as I pound away at the keyboard.

I sacrifice things.  I love video games, wish I could spend more time playing them.  While I haven’t given them up completely, I have decreased the time I spend on them.  If I have deadlines and I’m behind, I let everyone know so that they’ll give the time and space to work toward to meeting those goals.  While I draw the line at missing important events like birthdays, holidays, the “I really need a shoulder or advice” moments, or the “I’m so happy and excited I’ll just burst if I don’t tell you everything” occasions, etc, I can and do sacrifice casual socializing to get work done if I’m pressed for time.  If all else fails, I sacrifice sleep.

The point is, if you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it done.  Whether it’s writing, painting, gaming, reading, or whatever, there’s always a way to do it.  You just have to be diligent enough in looking for, or creative enough in making, those
requisite spaces of time.  Find enough of them, and you will accomplish your goal.

If a writer could rub a magic lamp and make a wish, it would be to have a situation and lifestyle that would allow him/her to write full-time.  Since this isn’t the story of Aladdin, we’ll just have to keep juggling everything until we find or create that situation and lifestyle for ourselves.

4 Responses to The Juggling Act

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