The Balance Between Personal Life and Writing
“I think the main thing is to find a system that works for you, and commit to protecting your writing time.”
By S. Kaeth
Writing a book, of course, is a huge time investment. Between drafting, rounds of editing, and final polishes, it can take a long time. Add to that reading other people’s manuscripts and giving feedback while they’re reading and giving feedback on yours, and reading widely in your genre, and also any other time commitments from writing groups and circles, and it can feel hard to squeeze anything else in. And then of course, there’s personal life–jobs, hobbies, family commitments, children.
When’s a writer to write?
It can be hard to juggle everything, and I’m always adjusting to find a better balance. I started getting serious about my writing in 2012, when I already had two kids. I have three now, and between working, life, family and kid activities, and homeschooling, I don’t always have a chance to write every day. For me, I found that I am most likely to be able to write in the evening, as I’m putting the kids to sleep. Sometimes I get snatches of time to work during the day too, and other times I don’t. My husband and I trade off working on our various projects on the weekends.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger or a poet or a novelist or what. Experiment to find your own balance, where you’re still living your life, and still improving, whatever that balance looks like for you.”
I think the main thing is to find a system that works for you, and commit to protecting your writing time. Don’t try to schedule it everywhere, or you’ll end up stressed out. I tend to give my kids the afternoon, and then I get the evening. If I do get to write in the afternoon, I consider it a bonus, and I don’t worry if my evening plans get disrupted. However, my family knows my writing time is important to me, too, and so if we’ve been hanging out having adventures all day, my family will often scatter to their own projects in the evening. We may or may not be in the same room, but everyone’s working on their own thing, not jumping on me. That doesn’t mean I’m writing during writing time, but it is set aside for me. I might be reading for other people, or learning something, or editing, or brainstorming, or reading for fun, and that’s ok for me.
Some people set a strict schedule for themselves. They write every day, and they may even have a certain time of day they write. Use that if it works for you.
Other people work in ebbs and flows. They might not write every day, and when they do, it may all come out in a rush. Sometimes the balance goes more to family or work, and then swings back to writing. If that works for you, embrace it!
Remember, you have to fill your writing tank in order to spill it onto the page. Taking in life, living life, and growing as a person is all part of that, as well as reading. But I find I get cranky if I don’t get a chance to let those words flow, too. They don’t always have to be good words. I don’t have to use them. But that word output helps me to be better.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger or a poet or a novelist or what. Experiment to find your own balance, where you’re still living your life, and still improving, whatever that balance looks like for you. Other people’s balance is not yours, and it’s ok if their strategies don’t work for you.
Nor is it a race. The first to a thousand words doesn’t win a prize. Life is hard, and it’s ok to let yourself be, to rest for mental health. It’s ok if your writing isn’t a priority right now or if something else takes priority over it for a bit. But don’t quit for good. Not being a priority right now doesn’t mean you’ve given up. It means you’re aware you can only do so much, and that’s good and healthy, nothing to be ashamed of.
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About the Author
S Kaeth is an author of sci-fi/fantasy stories, as well as a dreamer, reader, writer, character interviewer, and worldbuilder.
She was raised in the gorgeous Driftless area of the Midwest United States on a steady diet of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, mythology, legends of King Arthur, superheroes, and Doctor Who. As a child, she told stories constantly to family and friends, and she wrote some of the worst fan fiction and short stories that no one will ever get to see. As S got older, she was inspired a great deal by Andre Norton’s Janus novels, the Foundation series, the Ender’s Game series, Wheel of Time, Ursula K LeGuin, and Ringworld.
She’s an avid reader, and has been serious about honing her craft for about ten years, now. She finds writing necessary; it’s an integral part of who she is. Creative expression in some way helps her to get through the dark times and celebrate the bright times, making sense of the world and dealing with life in general. S has always been, and always will be, a storyteller.
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Thank you for having me, and for suggesting this topic!