Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Balance... the Elusive Concept

Someone once said to me “Oh, I know balance. I see it every time I swing by!”

I get that.

One of the biggest challenge of being a (creative) person is to keep life even. Moderation. First things first. The list of things to balance includes all the normal stuff, like home and hearth, family, relationship, job, personal care (ie exercise), friends, and hobbies. That’s a feat for everyone, with all the ups and down of life.

But when I add my writing life, the challenge gets even stickier. I never seem to get brilliant ideas at a convenient time. Those edits don’t arrive on the doorstep (or in my magical email) on the most perfect day to perform. And a character who has taken over the story on her own terms just demands to be written, and I seem to be driven to do it.

For some strange reason, family is not always overjoyed when the obsessive pull of a story or deadline makes the small but crucial task of laundry seem unimportant. At these times, compromising (yes, clean clothes are a necessity, but the sheets can wait until I’m done Chapter 2..) can bring some balance into life. But I have to work at it.

It’s even worse when I have carefully blocked out my “writing time”, clearing the decks, and announcing my intentions with self assertive determination. And then I sit down to begin… and I’ve got NOTHING. White space. The snow storm on the screen. Then, it’s just as hard to sit there and keep working, instead of jumping up and deciding it’s an absolutely great day to wash all the curtains or reroof the house.

Sometimes, I use a schedule, and keep myself to it. Sometimes I write lists (and lists of lists) to organize myself. Sometimes I just wing it (there is a lot of take out food included in this plan). Sometimes, I’m just “unbalanced.” I don’t seem to have it quite right.

So I will keep working at this. I will keep working at having as much structure and balance as I can muster, to keep ALL the parts of this marvelous thing called life productive and happy. Any good ideas? What keeps you balanced?


Chris Redding said...

2 things I've learned about keeping balance. I never get up from writing without penning the first sentence of the next scene. (Thank you April Kihlstrom for that) And I write in chunks of time. Even if I have a free day, I'll write for 20 minutes then put a load of laundry on. Then write until I have to put it in the dryer. Etc.

J Hali said...

LOL! Balance...had a hard time remembering how to spell it. Living alone I tend to bury myself in front of the computer. But I have to thank my wonderful sisters who remind me every now and again to clean the dust bunnies and go out and smell the roses.

Great topic!

Christine Clemetson said...

Great post, Christine. Balance is hard..I feel the pull of other things, but I started going by a writing schedule and that helps. It keeps me focused and I know if I get the word count in, I'm good!


Christine Bush said...

ahhh, thanks for your comments.

CR, I am also a "chunker" on many days.

JH, I call dust bunnies my pets.

CC et al... What is a target word count for you on a good, balanced day?

Roni said...

Prioritize! Writing is important (so are clean clothes and having food to eat!). But vacumming can wait!

Carol Hutchens said...

Great post, Christine. Your topic hits home. Balance is more difficult to gain than I ever realized. Eat, Sleep and Write. The rest will take care of its self! LOL

Mary Kennedy said...

Great post, Christine, I love the idea of life as a "work in progress," and I'm so glad you reminded me of April Kihlstrom's tip about "writing the first sentence of the next scene." I'm a big fan of April's and I'd had forgotten that suggestion. Good thing writers are multi-taskers,as you said, sometimes all we have is 20 minutes here and there, but it works!

Beth Ciotta said...

Fantasic post, Christine, and a subject near to my heart. Balance is something I have needed for a few years now. I'm still not sure how to achieve it, but I'm trying. Funny how much easier it is when you're NOT on dealine. LOL

Thanks for sharing. It's always nice to know that I'm not alone in my struggles!

April said...

Great post, Christine! I think we all struggle with that. Years ago you gave a talk about writing for 5 minutes. The idea was that anyone could find 5 minutes to write and it was intimidating but that usually one would end up writing for much longer than that. I've never forgotten it and sometimes when I'm coaching someone who has trouble with focus, I tell them it's okay to write for just 5, 10 or 15 minutes then get up and move around, do something during a short break and sit back down and write again. Hey, it's one way I can get laundry done AND write! (write 10 minutes, toss in the laundry, write 30 minutes, get up and hang up some stuff throw the rest in the dryer, write another 20 minutes....)

Sandy Cody said...

Interesting post, Christine. Lots of food for thought. I confess that all too often I don't write because I know I don't have more than 5 or 10 minutes, which I admit is really just a lazy excuse. I'm going to change that. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

I think you've hit it, Christine. The answer to balance IS take-out.