When Writing Is A Juggling Act by Stephanie Nickel

Some of us here at A Round of Words are full-time writers. Others, however, have to fit their writing into an already full schedule. Just how can we do that?

Here are a dozen ideas that may help:

1. Set manageable goals. Supposedly, we’ve already done that. If we find out along the way that we have to revise those goals, we should do so without feeling guilty or defeated. Remember this is “the writing challenge that knows you have a life.”

2. This may seem like I’m adding more work to your already lengthy To Do list. However, I like to make a Priority List from time to time. Who and what are the most important things in your life? What do you absolutely positively have to do (your day job, for instance)? Then, honestly evaluate when you are going to work on your ROW goals without driving yourself and those around you completely bonkers.

3. When we take on new challenges, something usually has to give. I once heard a wise woman say every time she took on something new, she let something else go. Now, that’s worth considering.

4. While writing is real work and sometimes requires a sit-your-butt-in-the-chair-and-write attitude, we all have times when we’re most creative (and writing is that, too). So, if you’re most creative in the morning, try to write then. If your bright ideas come at 2:00 a.m., that’s all right. Just remember to get enough rest. For most of us, our creativity dries up pretty quickly if we’re bleary-eyed and nodding off at the keyboard.

5. While we can all learn from one another, we are each unique. Some of us will post brief check-ins. Others will be quite lengthy. Whatever works best for you . . .

6. And when we do visit our fellow writers’ sites, we’re sure to discover ideas we want to incorporate. It would be great to leave a comment. Even a line or two would be good.

7. Visiting fellow ROWers sites is a great way to connect with the community. However, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if we’re not doing so as much as we’d like.

8. The same is true with check-ins. While it’s great to check in twice a week, if you miss a time or two, the ROW police aren’t going to track you down . . . at least I don’t think they are. Right, Kait?

9. If we’re writing about a serious subject and its beginning to consume us, wisdom dictates that we take a break from time to time . . . just not such a long break that we lose our rhythm.

10. If we seem to be spinning our wheels – or dropping the ball to continue the juggling metaphor – we can always take a break and write something completely different. It can be fun and the diversion we need to get back at our projects with new enthusiasm.

11. Maybe that diversion will have absolutely nothing to do with writing. Go for a walk. Play in the park. Jump in the pool. And then come back refreshed and ready to get at it.

12. For all of us, there are more important things than writing. We must know when to walk away from the keyboard or the notebook. Just remember to come back when the time is right.

May you have great success as you juggle . . . and write.


Stephanie Nickel

8 thoughts on “When Writing Is A Juggling Act by Stephanie Nickel

  1. I tend to fill every available second of the day with one project or another. That’s how I work best, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unfortunately, everyone has a limit. Well have a 24 hours in the day, and things to do other than working on writing projects. When I start to fell like I’ve taken on too much, I make a schedule.
    This isn’t a hard and fast schedule I intend to follow every day. Rather, it’s a snapshot. A schedule for a hypothetical, perfect day, where I scribble in what I want to work on and how much time I’ll need. If I have three projects going, and feel like I need to spend two hour on each to make daily progress, that blocks out six hours of the day.
    I keep filling in the schedule until I have everything blocked out, or until I’ve run out of hours. Then, I prune. What can I live without doing? What absolutely needs to get done no matter what?
    Taking this approach helps me fill my available time with productive things, and at the same time allows me to make sure I’m not biting off more than I can chew–or worse, not setting aside enough time to accomplish the really important things.

  2. I really appreciate the list of ideas to help those of us new enough to the writing scene be able to balance writing and life (whatever that means!)

    My biggest goal is getting to the point in my career that writing is an integral part of every day, not just something that I do when I can find a moment. Next year, I may very well have an opportunity to quit my day job and write full-time, but until that dream comes true, I’ll be using your list religiously.


  3. The problem is, what I always end up sacrificing is reading. I find if I’m writing, I don’t read. If I read, I don’t write. Why do I have to choose??

  4. Great ideas. The one I’ve had to really work on is saying no–taking things off my plate if I’m going to put something else on. I said no to two requests this week, after which I immediately turned to my husband and asked, “Aren’t you pleased? I would have never been able to say no like that ten years ago.” I have learned, however, that there is only so much of ME to give out to various tasks, and I need to be wise about how I spend my time and energy. Thanks for the tips!

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