So, I should feel bad, but actually it's made me question the way I’ve always looked at writing.
See, I’ve somehow felt that the more time I put into my writing—-and if I’m a serious writer that should be every day or nearly every day—the better I’ll be. After all, it seems like a lot of writers are always talking about their daily word counts or how much sleep they’ve missed to write or how early or late they stay up.
I know it takes sacrifice. Believe me, I’ve sacrificed quite a bit already to learn and grow as a writer.
But my question is, what about life? A few years ago, I came across a blogpost where a writer was urging other writers to cut out all extraneous things out of your life in order to write more. Don’t volunteer at your kid’s school. Don’t bring a meal to your sick neighbor. Don’t go on that vacation.
I didn’t like that post and I still don’t. If I do nothing but write (and believe me, this has been my de facto many times), I find I have nothing to say. My dialogue is stilted. My characters are lifeless.
I didn’t actually work much on my book this month, but I heard stories from friends that might make their way into a book. I had moments with my niece that I’ll never forget. I got to see several wonderful films and laughed much. I even (gasp) read books outside my genre.
So, April has been a month of living life. I'd forgotten how much I've missed that. It’s also been a month where I’ve given myself a bit of grace. I was greatly inspired this month when I did research for a post on Jeanne Birdsall (author of the National Book Award book, THE PENDERWICKS). She writes for a couple hours a day late at night. This is after she’s spent the whole day puttering, walking her dogs and working in her garden.
I have to think that her dogs and her garden have something to do with how she writes later.
So, in honor of giving myself grace and trying to achieve a better balance with my life, I am revising my January goals.
1. Instead of trying to work on three novels (revise 2, start a third), I am aiming to finish revisions on one (my MG set in Scotland).
2. Instead of aiming to write almost every day, I’m going to aim for once or twice a week until the summer comes and I’m no longer working as many hours or teaching my kids.
How about you? How do you balance writing and life?