The Writing/Life Balance

In the writing world, we talk a lot about how to make time for writing. We assure ourselves and others that even with a career, a spouse, a child and friends, we can still write, edit, polish and publish a novel. We have goal sheets, and word trackers, and schedules, and all the best intentions. And we do it. Somehow, with only twenty-four hours in a day, we even squeeze in a little time for sleep.

Last weekend, my father-in-law went into the hospital. It was for a routine surgery and he was supposed to be in and out of the hospital in just a couple of days. The doctors assured us they saw no reason it would be any more complicated than that and, being the optimist that I am, I believed them. My husband and I packed up the little one and stayed the weekend with my mother-in-law to be there for her and help take care of things while she stayed at his bedside. I brought along my writing things so I could make some progress on the preparations to edit my manuscript in our downtime.

The surgery was not routine and he was not out in a couple of days. There were some complications that kept him in the hospital an extra day, and then another one, and yet the doctors assured us he would be fine and I believed them. I continued to try to plug away at my writing goals when I had a few minutes to myself. Maybe this is why it took me so long to see that while I believed the doctors’ optimistic assurances, no one else in my family did. It took me so long to finally see the look of torture in my husband’s eyes and that with my mind in a million different places, I wasn’t being there for him.

At that moment, my writing went from high on my list to low on my list. I dedicated my time to being with him and showing him I was on his side, no matter what happened. If I had time, I squeezed in a little writing after bed but many times I didn’t and my goals rolled over from one day to the next. It stung for a little while. My writing schedule was getting painfully thrown off, but I knew how much my family needed me. It turns out, over the last few years, I’d been missing a lot of the things they needed from me.

A week and a half later, my father-in-law is still in the hospital and now I’m scared. I hold onto my optimism because I have to, but if I sit still for too long, reality crashes over me and it’s hard for me to breathe. He gets better with each day but until he’s back home and back to being the man who cooks me Eggs Benedict every Sunday morning with 50’s music blaring through the house, my heart won’t rest easy. And the hardest part is that it took this to realize how far my priorities have strayed. I had put desire to churn out a book every year before the commitment I’d made to my family so many years ago. I’d lost sight of how much they needed my full and undivided presence for longer than it took to eat dinner each night.

I still want to get my manuscript edited, and polished, and hopefully published one day. I still have writing goals and I still have a schedule. I still hope you’ll work toward your dreams using any time you can. But don’t forget how much the people you love need you in their lives…and what a blessing that is.

I am an author and a writing business teacher. I am also a mother of two, a wife, a businesswoman, a nature-lover, and a wannabe yogi. My debut women's fiction novel, PERFECTLY UNDONE, will be released on October 3, 2017. Here, I blog about my journey in publication in the hopes of inspiring others to follow their own dreams.

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Comments (19)

  1. Jamie, I can sympathize with you. For a year and half, I juggled working full-time as a civilian, part-time as a military reservist, writing 30 hrs a week, and spending time with my family. It became painfully obvious my juggling act wasn’t successful. My husband and I decided to take a financial hit so I could write and spend time with him without being exhausted. Re-evaluating my life was tough, but necessary. I write full-time for now, but my number 1 priority is my family for life.

    1. Sounds like you have a great husband, Isis. It is tough, and hard to admit how far I’ve strayed from my true priorities. I wish writing could be my full time job and hopefully one day it will be. I don’t want to give up my dream but I understand now that it can’t be my whole life. Thanks for your support. 🙂

  2. I’m sorry to hear your father-in-law is still in the hospital. I know you weren’t expecting that.

    That struggle for balance is so hard to find. I know I haven’t found it yet.

    1. It’s a tough thing to find and I think it’s probably going to vary from one day to the next. It you figure it out, though, let me know! 😉

  3.  Amen, sister! One of my yearly writing goals is to be present ~ for both myself and my family ~ in our lives. I list it as one of my writing goals because the time I take for myself and my loved ones directly affects my work. If I feel pulled in a million directions, I can’t get lost in my writing. And yeah, sometimes that means throwing the word count and editing goals out the window for a bit, but family first, always. 😉

    1. I love that you say “be present” because I think that is especially hard for writers.  We’re so lost in our own thoughts even when we’re not writing.  And that’s the real goal–not only to be present in body, but also in mind. 

  4.  This is something we all face. Thanks for putting it into perspective. Family first.

    1. Thanks, Carol.  It’s easy to get so caught up in our writing goals that we forget about everything else.  I need constant reminders! 

  5.  Jamie, please stop by my blog and pick up your *Award*

    Sharon 🙂

  6. Thank you.  I needed this.  Sometimes I forget how much my family needs me… I take him for granted.  Between my work and my passion when do we have time but to give each other a peck on the cheek and move on.  Thank you again. 

    I hope your father-in-law is doing better.  You have my love and my thoughts!

    1. We all need to feel that connection, you know?  At the end of our lives, when we look back, it will be our relationships that make the most impact.  We just have to remember to treat it that way every day, now, while we can.

      Thank you!  He’s getting better every day.  🙂 

  7. I hope your father-in-law is getting better. Sending positive thoughts your way!

  8. Hi Jamie. I know you wrote this back in May so I hope your father in law is okay. I couldn’t have read your post at a better time. I googled write-life balance to see if anyone had written about how to balance writing and life and yours was the only post that had that title in it. I am so glad I read it and it’s given me some inspiration for a blog post for my writing notebook tomorrow. I will give your blog a mention as it is so good.
    Thank you for putting things into perspective for me. I know that my family and my writing are important but I sometimes get so caught up with my writing goals that I forget to spend time with them.

    1. Sandra,

      Thank you. My father-in-law is doing much better. He’s as back to normal as we can hope for and we really enjoyed the holidays together.

      I’m so glad the post was timely for you. I think it’s a really personal topic to address and one that’s hard to face because we all want to be good at everything but we have to face the facts that we can’t do it all. I know I’ll never get it perfect but just making “balance” a priority helps us get there.

      Lots of luck to you and I look forward to seeing your post!

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