Balance in the life of a writer: how do you achieve it?

I was atphoto-of-balance a party once where a well-established mystery novelist told me she was lucky if she managed to write for an hour or two a day, the bulk of her schedule being consumed with book promotions, Twitter, Facebook, newletters, her blog. Seems we’re all performing the same high-wire act. Without a social media presence, without Bookbub, 99 cent promotions, Goodreads competitions, mailing lists, and all that ongoing effort, chances are that even the best-crafted novel will languish, lost and crying out unnoticed, in the wasteland of Amazon’s millions of fiction books. Well, boo-hoo, I can almost hear you say. After all, this isn’t high school English – no hoary old professor is forcing us to come up with the next Ellie Campbell book. And juggling time is nothing new for writers. Most of the literary greats had to fit in their artistic endeavours with full-time jobs, squeezing precious hours out of the early dawn or burning the midnight oil.

But still I wistfully think – wouldn’t it be nice to get a sense of balance? And have a life beyond the laptop? Are we all being forced to multi-task way beyond our natural capacity, checking our emails while sitting on the toilet while brushing our teeth? Lifting your nose from your mesmerizing screen only to discover six hours have vasalesnished, the husband has walked in the door and dinner is still a frozen chicken and a bag of groceries lying unpacked on the counter along with the breakfast dishes. We all have responsibilities shrieking for our attention: children, elderly parents, pets that need feeding or walking, even horses, (some of us). We have bodies that ought to be exercised more, friends that are feeling neglected, the guilty sense that however we spend our precious time, there is so much out there being left undone.

Recently I decided to tackle the exercise element. Being hopelessly disorganised and blaming Google for half my woes, I turned to the enemy for help. Yes, there are apps, endless apps for every need — Schedule Planner, Lose It, Map My Dog Walk – but to motivate me out of my swivel chair, I needed something simple and fun. Pokemon Go sounded promising but I hate those ugly little blighters and I’d probably fall in a ditch. So I downloaded Zombies, Run. Now I’m not just walking the dog, I’m listening to a story while looking for clues to save mankind as well as evading the heavy breathing shuffling footsteps coming up behind me and gaining supplies to build my township. Unfortunately, I’ve had to switch off the Zombie Chase feature until my cracked rib heals — I tripped on a pavement after all — but still I am getting out there daily and enjoying it!

Next I want to tackle The Walk, from the same developers, Six To Start, which throws you into an espionage story starting in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands and walks you the length of the British Isles, using your phone’s GPS to map your progress. Oh, and for that messy house? Tody promises to get your cleaning organized, UFYH offers some foul-mouthed random challenges, Home Routine lists your morning, afternoon and evening tasks, dividing the house into manageable zones and Epic Win allows you to be a warrior princess, unlocking a fantasy game as you accumulate points by completing your to-do list.

If you can’t escape this hi-tech age, join it, right? Will any of this actually make a difference? Too early to tell but if has anyone knows of another method that can turn a procrastinating dreamer into a fully-functioning Superwoman, pass it along in the comments – please, pretty please!!!

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12 thoughts on “Balance in the life of a writer: how do you achieve it?

  1. Zombies, Run! sounds fascinating, but I’d probably trip & fall first thing. So not coordinated. I don’t have quite the same problem as you as I don’t write. Instead, I am reading lots and lots of author newsletters, stalking authors on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and wherever else the little darlings are hiding.

    Not to mention all the books on my Kindle I am in the midst of reading. Oh, and tracking down release parties to attend so I have someone to talk to. I talk to my furkids, but they just look at me like I’m nuts.

    Retirement sucks, but in between feeding the furkids and playing Farmville, I just can’t seem to get motivated to clean house. Yep, the dust bunnies killed my cleaning fairy although I haven’t found her body yet.

    So while the flotsam of life is building up around me (that’s code for “hoarder alert”), I will continue to look to you all for hints and tips on reclaiming my life while you find tips to coordinate yours. Let me know when you find some. Love & Kisses. Signed Glued to My Chair in Front of the Laptop 🙂

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    • Hah, hah. I did trip and fall, cracked a rib and I was only walking! I found another app I like better – MarchQuest – more of a Tolkein fantasy kind of thing you listen to. It’s a bit interactive, got some good graphics – you see the person talking before you start off -and bird song twittering in your ear between story segments. I haven’t got into Farmville yet. Friends have invited me but I have my own farm to manage and I’m scared to start something that might suck more time out of my day. Aren’t we all hoarders these days? I know I am and I’m looking for a cure. Maybe there’s an app for that?

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  2. Pingback: Balance in the Life of A Writer | Chicklit Sisters

  3. Great post which made me laugh. I don’t even have a smart phone so all those apps are a total mystery to me! I try to manage a walk every day – might only be half an hour but at least it’s fresh air and exercise. No Zombies, no Pokemon.
    What I’d like is someone or something to organise me so I spend less time reading and commenting on blog posts, tweeting and sharing. And I’d like someone to organise my promotions for me.

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  4. Pingback: Balance in the life of a writer: how do you achieve it? – Take Five Authors – Jenny Harper Author

  5. My goodness, sisters, I’m exhausted listening to you!

    I, too, find the task of balancing modern life with writing, seeing friends, getting exercise etc an uphill slog. I love the idea of the The Walk but tbh getting up to speed with yet another bit of modern technology sounds like one bridge too far.

    I don’t think I do get the balance. This week I’ve been trying to concentrate on writing and it’s going really well. But after three days of ignoring emails, I find I have nearly 300 to get through – and that’s without my Twitter and Facebook duties to attend to. As for my own website and blog … I despair of myself! But if I keep up-to-date with all that, the writing definitely suffers.

    But exercise is important. Probably the most important element in all you have described. I go for a half hour power walk every morning (2 miles, 30 minutes, uphill and down), and try to do longer walks, aqua classes and golf whenever I can.

    As for housework? Pah!

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    • Agree with the housework comment;) Luckily my hubbie is tolerant if not happy about the state of the house. And as for taking time off emails, that’s the worst thing about vacations. I still haven’t really recovered from almost a month away in Mongolia. God knows what’s lurking in those piles of unread messages.

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