Considering the fact that I missed last week’s Writing Wednesday post because I was buried under a to-do list that had gotten out of control, this seems like the perfect time to talk about balance.
I’ve noticed that the further I move along in my author career, the easier it is for me to get side-tracked, distracted, and overwhelmed. Back in 2016 when I started writing Light on Glass, that was my only project. I had one book I was writing. I wrote when I had time. I didn’t have any deadlines, pressure, or expectations. I liked the story. I wanted to write it. So, I did.
By 2017, I had two projects in the works. I was revising, and then querying, Light on Glass and writing the first draft of Mission Hollywood. I’d also been told about the importance of the dreaded “P” word…Platform. I started investing time on Twitter and building a community. Another professional told me I needed a website, so I built one.
Fast forward to 2019, I have two book deals, and those brought editing deadlines. Hard and fast deadlines. I also have three more books in various stages of drafting and revising. I have over 10,000 Twitter followers to keep in touch with, a fledgling blog, and I recently started providing manuscript critiques. Suddenly my writing time isn’t just about writing anymore. It’s being divided into chunks of other stuff, being chipped away by a list of things the experts say I have to do and must do in order to be a writer. It has been frighteningly easy for me to get overwhelmed by everything that isn’t writing that a writer is required to do. How’s that for a tongue-twister?
I’m learning the hard way that balance is the key. And I’m not talking about standing on your head or tiptoeing on a high wire kind of balance. Balance in the creative life. How do we balance everything that needs to be done so we don’t get overwhelmed, tip over, and fall? What’s the secret?
I’m not sure if this counts a secret, but for me the answer has come in remembering my primary goal. I am a writer. I do lots of other things, but at the heart of it all, I am a writer. In this day and age of publishing, writers are often told they have to be marketers, bloggers, influencers, reviewers, advertisers, and a slew of other things. But when you boil it all down, strip away the excess, what’s left is the writing.
It’s easy to get skewed, to lose track of time on social media, to spend hours obsessing over ads and analytics, to get wrapped up in platform building. But none of that defines a writer. It’s the words that define us.
If you’re feeling out of balance, swamped by a long list of things people have told you “must do,” go back to your first love. Are you a writer? Put that at the top of your to-do list. Make time to cultivate your writing before you do the other non-writing writerly stuff. Are you an artist? Then put that at the top of your list. No amount of posting, liking, or marketing can match what you create with your unique gifting.