I’ve had to come to a sad realization lately. Namely, that I can’t write full-time, work full-time, and still take care of my body. It sucks and I’ve been fighting it for the past…3 months? 4 months? Somewhere in there?
I’m notoriously bad about juggling things. I’m a focused person and, unfortunately, I’ll be intensely interested in something and then lose interest when the next interesting thing comes by. However, I’ve been trying to find balance lately rather than throwing myself full force into whatever is in front of me.
With that in mind, I’d like to talk about the different things that a writer has to balance in their lives to make sure that they are happy, healthy, and, best of all, productive.
Exercise is important, but for a writer, it’s especially vital. Writers, as a group, are prone to severe depression and anxiety. These are two things that can be helped by regular exercise. There’s even a few articles floating around the interwebs about how walking can improve creativity and help relieve writer’s block. Talk about a win-win!
For my exercise, personally, I have both a walking regimen and a weight lifting routine.
I’m ashamed to say that my diet usually suffers the most when I’m in a writing groove. It’s so much easier to grab a caffeinated soda or high-calorie snack when I want to hurry up and finish writing one more page/paragraph/sentence.
That said, diet is such an important part of life and it’s one that, as a writer, you need to focus on.
Eating good food (and trying new flavors) can give ideas for stories, can introduce you to a new hobby like grilling or baking, and bring you closer to the friends and family that often get neglected when we’re off in our heads.
Also, eating junk food can lower the efficiency of your bodily systems, which could affect your writing by allowing pesky things like colds, flus, and sinuses affect you more than they would otherwise. Writing is hard enough without having to do it while feeling terrible.
Work, as in a job that you go to each day that pays for your bills, is something that is going to be a reality for many writers. In my case, I work at a convenience store. This means that there’s no time to sneak in a few words here and there. It means that I’m on my feet 8-10 hours a day. It means that at least 5 days of my week are devoted to earning my way. And that’s how it should be.
Does my writing suffer? Maybe. But trust me when I say that the starving artist myth is not a very fun reality and that I’m not planning on living it.
Family and Friends
Remember the depression and anxiety I mentioned before? Having a support system made up of your close family and friends can help. Valuing the people in your life is so important. Go out and enjoy your time with the people you love and live your life. Writing is important, but so are the people who care about you.
Now, I know what you’re thinking….
When will I have time for writing?
Well, to be honest, that’s up to you and what priorities are most important.
For me, I have to prioritize my health. Both sides of my family have some pretty serious health problems and I’m already overweight. As such, my exercise and diet need to take up a good portion of my life.
As of right now, I’m dividing up my week into 5 days working, 3 days exercising/cooking, 3 days writing, and 1 day for myself to spend with family and friends.
But I thought I was supposed to write every day!
It’s a nice thought. As a matter of fact, it’s this thought that I’ve been wrestling with for the past several months. However, sometimes life isn’t that neat or that simple. If I write every day, I can’t juggle the rest. I fail and then I get depressed and then I don’t write.
So, instead of my 500 words 7 days a week (3,500/week), I’m writing 1,167 words 3 days a week. The output is the same, clearing 14,000 words a month, but it’s a little more doable for my schedule.
Which leads to my final point…
Writing will always be there.
I’m planning on writing for the rest of my life. I believe that I have a story, an universe of stories, to tell. I may have faith in nothing else, but I believe that I will continue writing, come what may. As such, there’s no need to be in such a huge hurry. I still want to aim for at least two short stories a month, but I’m willing to set my pace and enjoy both life and writing.