It's All About Balance
It's All About Balance
By A. Gagliardi
I just read an article that was about right brain vs. left brain activities. It seems that the right brain is the creative side and the left brain keeps us on task, organized, and busy with the business of life. The author suggests that utilizing the right brain gives us an opportunity to focus on purpose, peace and unbridled enthusiasm.
I agree with that article, in that we should access the creative side of our brain. But, I think that it is all about balance. We need to do the homework or housework, the cooking or shopping. We need to go to work (most free lance writers have at least a part time job). We need and want to spend time with our families. Given these pieces of our lives, writing is one part of a busy life.
Prioritize your goals
I don’t know about you, but I have lots of goals. I want to loose ten pounds, like almost everyone I know. Then there is learning to play the Mandolin, keeping fit, spending time with my spouse and family, my religious obligations and by the way, I have a full-time job. Most people with a fitness goal make time to exercise regularly; a musical goal requires frequent practice; religious and volunteer goals take time from each day. Finding time to do freelance writing becomes a constant struggle, unless I consciously make time for writing.
Budget your time
I hate budgeting. I don’t want to have to be mindful of every penny I spend. Nor do I enjoy calculating the calories, fat content and sugar in what I eat. But, what I have found is that a little budgeting, even though disagreeable, really helps me in the long run. So, applying the budgeting principle to writing seems like common sense. I keep track of how much I write every day, of where I am going with the writing and what my long-term goals are. Every so often I reassess my goals and make a mid-course adjustment. I can’t spend all my writing time in the creative process because I need to do the housekeeping parts of research, query letters, and marketing in order to sell the creative parts.
Being consistent is something I learned in Early Childhood Family Education classes. When we are consistent, our goals for parenting are more readily realized. If we have a goal of writing for publication we need to put in the time for practicing that skill. Make a habit of writing on a regular basis. I set time aside each day at a specific time. (This ties back to the budgeting ) Most days I can write a little, some days much more. Having a set time to write is really the clincher because it provides the mindset that I am working toward my goal that my work will regularly be published.
When I started playing the Mandolin, I noticed how good my neighbor’s high school student was at the playing the Violin, and asked her how he did it. She replied that she makes him practice only on the days that he eats. I decided that this was a good rule for me and I try to practice the Mandolin - and write, every day.
If you don’t organize your work and your workspace, you will lose valuable time that could be spent writing. Set up a space to write that you can leave and come back to. Organize your space for easy access to whatever tools you need. There is a need to spend time writing query letters, doing research, sending off mailings, financial book keeping and organizing your files. Set aside two or three scheduled writing times for this type of work and other specific times to allow those creative juices to flow.
I would like to hire a house cleaner so I wouldn’t have to spend the hours I do cleaning my house, but my budget doesn’t allow it. However, I barter my services. I go to a near-by day care and provide a music circle & story time once each week. In exchange the teacher I work with cleans my house twice a month. Thinking creatively to get the help I need gives me more time to spend on writing.
Strike While the iron is hot
Ok, having said all that about planning, I also firmly believe in striking while the iron is hot. When I am hot on an idea, I sit down and write. I write on anything handy. I take the time out of homework, housework, sleep or hobbies. I write as much as I can at the time, making as complete notes as I can. Then, when I have more time, I can finish what I started in the heat of inspiration.
If we think about having a balanced life and we have the goal of having a writer’s life; then we need to prioritize our goals, budget or time in order to write consistently, get organized, and when inspiration hits, strike while the iron is hot. Put regular writing on your scale for a balanced life.
 “Stop this Hamster Wheel I want to get off” by Donna Gephart, Jan/Feb 2012 SCBWI.
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