The Balancing Act
Everyone balances their workload with life. Anybody who’s ever “worked for the weekend” is aware of the vicious cycle we’re drawn into when we hold down full-time jobs and still desire to spend time with loved ones. (It’s the American Dream, go figure.)
You slave away for the boss to collect that check. You pay your mortgage or rent and have a little extra to get the oil changed or buy a DVD to watch with the family. Vacations, birthdays, holidays all revolve around work.
As a writer, it’s more than just a day job and a family life to juggle (unless you’re fortunate and don’t need an outside vocation to survive.) The writing has to be done too, and that will come at the expense of your friends and family. You’re not carrying a full-time job — you’re working two jobs, one of which has you at the corner desk in the bedroom, pounding words into your computer.
The difficulty lies in perspective. You need to concentrate on attaining your writing goals or you won’t be a success at writing. Your family, no matter how accepting, will experience feelings of neglect because you prefer your fantasy worlds and characters over them. I know. I have a super-supportive woman at my side who still feels ignored when I get into a story.
What To Do?
There’s only one thing you can do. (I know. I said “Three Ways” in the title. Bear with me.) Are you ready for it? Brace yourself!
Most of you reading this are now groaning. “Duh,” you say. “I know that, Redhawk!”
Seriously, though, making time for your family is the primary tool you have to balance your work/writing with life. (Here’s where the “Three Things” come in.)
* One – make time for your family every day.
Just like you schedule time to go to the day job and give yourself a certain amount in which to write, you need to schedule time to be with your family. This is a daily thing!
Be available at a particular time during the day, no matter when it works for you and them. Knowing you’re accessible will quell even the most anxious spouse or child. Set aside everything to have breakfast (or lunch or dinner or whatever) with your wife, husband and kids. It’ll do wonders for your relationship.
* Two – incorporate a weekly “date” into your busy calendar.
This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. No need to break the bank running out to dinner every week or taking in plays and operas and movies.
When I’m on a writing jag (translated: I leave the house hours before my day job requires my presence to write in a coffee shop,) one of my days off is “Wife Night”. We have a sit down dinner at home and I’m available for discussion or a DVD or what-have-you.
No chat rooms, no plotting or writing. I’m there. I’m present.
* Three – have a monthly “Date Night”.
And if you have kids in your household, I mean “Family Night”. (Though having an additional “Date Night” with the spouse is never wrong!)
This is where you blow the bank, use the extra money you might have coming in and enjoy a night out on the town. Or a day. Or an afternoon. Who said “Date Night” had to always be dinner and a movie?
Some time ago, my wife and I went on a walking tour in our city – Chocolate Decadence. Not only did we both gain a couple of pounds, we had fun together. We connected, something we couldn’t have done if I’d been home writing.
We’ve also gone out and played miniature golf, seen movies, had lunch, went to the local Farmers’ Market and Craft Fairs, rented a car to go to the coast, enjoyed river cruises and parks. The list is endless if you look around your hometown. There’s bound to be something of interest you can both enjoy.
The Take Away
You love your family or you wouldn’t be with them. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget things like that. Relationships whither and die for the same reason.
And I’m assuming you write because you love doing it. It fills your soul as you pour that same soul out onto the page.
Take some of that soul and spread the wealth. In this case, money means nothing.
Time means everything.
Whether you’re a writer or not, I’m sure there are things you do to connect with your family regardless of the day job eating vast amounts of your time.
Comment below! Share your experiences! Give the rest of us some ideas (preferably cheap ones! I know I ain’t made a money!)
I’d love to hear from you!
Today’s post was inspired by the Merry-go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We’ve gathered several writers from amateur to professional, and we discuss one topic each month. If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and how their writing year went, check out the rest of the tour! On the 12th, the entry was by Bonnie R. Schutzman. Tomorrow, see what Alex F. Fayle has to say on the matter! Happy reading!