My world is filled with a multitude of responsibilities. You know the run of the mill activities that seem to take up every second of those twenty four hours that we’re gifted with every day: taking care of loved ones, maintaining a healthy relationship with a significant partner, meeting work deadlines, bills, bills, and more bills (you get my drift). And just when you think that there isn’t enough to do with your time, you have this desire, this passion to create. This passion doesn’t mind consuming every waking thought, or being possessive with when and how it shows up; it demands to be cultivated, to be nourished. Balancing those creative demands with the demands that take up the bulk of our lives requires knowledge of how to maintain a concurrent flow. Yes, it is possible for the writer to exist alongside the Mommy, the project manager, the lover, the friend- it merely takes effort and understanding.
For me, balance comes with prioritizing. I’ve worked my schedule long enough to know what is filler and what is important. The writer in me wants to fill up every waking moment but I have to beat it into submission when dealing with other facets of my life. I appease this fiery beast by allowing my thoughts during commutes to veer off into the fantasy land that I’ve created. Down times during the day are very productive; even if I can’t get to my laptop, I’m jotting down notes, fleshing out the intricacies that usually give me fits when I finally get a chance to sit down and get to work. One of the most beneficial methods (and therapeutic, by the way) is to have a conversation with myself about a story or character development. So, if you see me in the streets one day, talking to myself, know that I haven’t gone insane just yet. All of these are done on “my time” and doesn’t take away from any of the priorities that surround me.
Although I am the only artist in the house, my family understands my madness and as such, they make every possible effort to afford me the time I need once I satisfy my priorities. This means, that most of my writing time is done in the evening when the children are asleep and the phone has stopped ringing. On the weekends, I devote a block of four hours to writing per day- if I choose to burn those four hours on social networking, then it’s my bust but there is hardly a moment where I will supplant socializing with writing. I’ve had to work on turning off Facebook when I’m in writing mode. It’s been difficult but it is manageable.
Balancing life and the need to create takes only one thing: knowledge. Know your schedules, your boundaries, know your priorities, and know yourself. Writing is a life partner that will not go away. It is best that I recognize that and incorporate this person, who could potentially be a pain, but still occupies my brain twenty four hours a day, seven days a week into my life. That way, we will both be happy.
…Or we will drive each other insane.