Thursday, November 04, 2010
Work, Family and Writing: How to Balance Life with Art
 
Lynda Williams was kind enough to ask me to discuss this topic on her blog today, so let’s start with a definition.

According to Wikipedia a “Work-Life Balance” can be defined as such: “Each individual's needs, experiences and goals, define the balance and there is not a one size fits all solution. Also, what work-life balance does not mean is an equal balance in units of time between work and life.

So it depends on your needs and goals. If you have a family, or like me are just starting one, you need to take into account how much time your family needs. Can they get by without you one or two nights a week? Is your spouse supportive of your writing? And that pesky day job. Can you financially afford to go part-time so you have more time for writing? Or will you have to eek out whatever time you can during the commute or on lunch breaks?

So you’ve figured out your family’s needs and your financial responsibilities. But you also need to take into account your needs and goals.

So what are your goals? No really, think about them. What do you want to happen next year? In 5 years? In 10? What do you want to be writing, selling, doing, living? Write these things down. If you want to write 2 novels a year and promote them both, you will need more time than someone who wants to write a few short stories. Once you know what your goals are you can start figuring out how to arrange your life to get them. You’ll figure out how much time it will take and where you can find those extra minutes in your day. Talk about your goals with your family so they understand why you need them to take care of themselves on Wednesday nights.

And when all else fails, when you have the goals and the drive but not the support you wish you had, there is always late night writing. You might miss that extra hour of sleep but you’ll love the piece of writing you end up with.

You can find a balance; it just takes work and effort to find it.

Tina Hunter

~ Tina is a published science fiction and fantasy author. She's been doing a lot of work on her work-life balance since getting married this spring. For more information, check out her blog at TinaHunter.ca ~

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Comments:
I found it got a lot easier when I said "This is my part-time job." The family didn't treat my writing differently, but I did.

My partner is very supportive of my writing, as are my step-kids. However, they are often not the problem. It's *me*.

I am the one who lets's myself get distracted by laundry, dirty litter boxes, children's homework. I just had to outline everyone's chores and responsibilities. And *I* needed to stick to it.

The boys are 13 and 11, and the eldest is special needs. They are at that awkward age where they are fairly independant, but not quite enough. So, when they come and harass me in my office, I simply make them go do an additional chore. It was perhaps the most useful tool to get them out of my office :)

"Krista, can I show you my lego house?"
"This is writing time. I told you this already. My door is closed. Please go clean the litter boxes."
"But..."
"This is my writing time. I'm at work. Please go do your chore now."
 
LOL. That's awesome Krista. A great way to make sure the kids learn real quick to not bother you.

And yes, sometimes it is all about making sure *you* stick to your own goals. Getting distracted can happen pretty easily otherwise.

Thanks for the comment.
 
I'm working on multiple tasks these days, working and job hunting. So this is a very germane topic for me. I tried setting aside my writing life at first. But I found that allowing myself an hour here and there created a sense of continuity and, well, peace?, that made me more productive and focused when I reverted to the "life" side of the "writing" and "life" balance. I do make money from writing, but not anywhere close to enough to pay the bills, and my balance has always included a productive and stimulating day job that's also defined who I am.
 
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