One of the biggest struggles I hear from writers is that they can’t find balance in their lives. They fight to fit their real-world life with their creative life and day after day, time after time, their efforts are thwarted. They may find success for an hour or even a few days or several weeks, even, but inevitably something comes along to throw them off center.
The frustration that ensues is agonizing. Many people, in fact, feel like they have failed in one way or another because they can’t balance their lives. It is no wonder “finding balance” is one of the top struggles I hear about—not just from writers, actually, but across the board. Moms. Entrepreneuers. Students. Businessmen.
For years my blog tagline read “Balancing Writing and Life” not knowing then as I know now that balance—in this sense—is a myth. I wrote posts about how I was managing to fit my writing into my busy life. During this time, my kids were too young to be left alone, I was mothering my mother, volunteering, dealing with a novel that had to be written (even though I had no clue how to write it well), and starting up my freelance editing business.
In order to get things done, I was getting up at four o’clock in the morning to do my writing. Making school lunches while listening to a business podcast. Recording new story ideas onto my phone any time I was driving a car. Catching up with social media ten minutes here, five minutes there. Cooking dinner while helping kids with homework. Collapsing into bed after scribbling out another list of to-dos for the next day.
I thought I was balancing things. I was getting things done, sure, but I was beyond exhausted and stressed. I used to get so upset if I couldn’t answer emails or reply to comments on my blog within three hours. I was so busy throughout the day, my writing habitat became my dumping ground and over time--there was no writing habitat. Just a laptop that I propped anywhere I could.
My time management skills grew so inconsistent and scattered that I stopped making deadlines and goals. Aside from writing at four o’clock each morning (and getting my kids to where they needed to be), I had no structure or set plan to my days. Holding me together was my absolute need to write fiction every morning. I told myself if I could end the day having written some fiction and sitting down to dinner with my family, then that was good enough.
That’s not balance. That’s desperation.
I was kidding myself. Finding balance was like finding a chameleon. You might find it for a small while till it changes on you.
Here’s what I know: Balance is on par with control. You’re searching for something you will never have. In order to have balance you have to have total control over the elements you are measuring.
This is why balance in our lives is a myth. We are killing ourselves trying to obtain something that does not exist.
If balance is a myth, then does that mean we’re stuck with chaos and virtual insanity?
You aren’t stuck.
You just have to retrain yourself.
Instead of looking at your life as individual pieces that need to be shifted and modified according to a pre-determined result, look at your life as parts that will flow when they are ready.
Instead of balance, seek harmony.
I began to use harmony as a word to describe the essence of my daily grind because it conveys a sense of flow and flexibility. Beauty. You are off the hook with control if you’re living a harmonious life. You are given more freedom and room to adjust in a harmonious life. With harmony, you sense that you have more options as well.
I feel that the word balance makes us feel we must conduct our days in a certain way and if it doesn’t work, we have failed, we aren’t good enough, we have let ourselves down.
The word harmony is much more forgiving. You still want your life to move beautifully and smoothly, of course, but you don’t feel that you’re stuck doing things a certain way.
There’s a lot of psychology behind the word balance and that might be where some people get stuck. I do know of someone who likes to use the word balance, but admits that she looks at it like a see-saw – you have to make adjustments to keep things in order.
Her viewpoint speaks to my very resistance toward the word—that balance (as we know it) can’t work in our real-world lives.
Our vision of balance (equal, even, enough time & energy for everything with no stress) is not realistic--and yet that is what we strive for again and again.
The sooner we release our expectations, the sooner we’ll be able to find a word that conveys a kinder treatment of ourselves.
I designed a workbook for writers to help you assess two of the key grounding writing forces in a writer's journey: Habitat and Time.
You can download it >>>HERE<<<
When you are able to find your optimal habitat and time, then you have found the way toward harmony, and it can only flow smoother from there as long as you stay true to your natural writing forces.
This assessment is a combo workbook and journal that you can put to use today to help you write successfully with confidence, joy, and rumbling creativity.
Have a Writerly Day!