At the moment, I am struggling with finding balance in my life.
I work in an office four days a week, and often have several social engagements throughout the week and at the weekend. So, it can be difficult to find time to write. It helps a lot that I have several writer friends who are much more dedicated than I am, and who keep me on target by scheduling writing dates and not letting me wimp out at the last minute.
But it can be tough. I recently had a glorious weekend of three whole days with no commitments, and was encouraged that what I wanted to do with my time was work on writing projects. I knuckled down and put in five or six hours on all three days, getting a huge amount done and feeling very proud of myself by the end of it. Partway through the Monday afternoon, I found myself thinking, “This is what I want my life to be!”
Then I went back to ‘real’ work on the Tuesday and spent the rest of the week dragging myself around the office like a zombie, totally exhausted and utterly unable to concentrate on anything. It turns out that spending three days focusing really hard on creative projects takes up just as much energy as my day job, if not more. Who knew? So it’s really not feasible for me to go to work in the office for four days, and then essentially work full days at writing for the other three days of the week.
It’s also starting to feel like I haven’t written anything new in a long time. This clearly isn’t true, since I wrote two or three new pieces at Felixstowe Book Festival at the start of July, and I’ve taken part in two fanfiction events in the last couple of months, as well. But so much of my time and energy since March has been taken up with redrafting the novel, I’m feeling the need to get my teeth into a new, big project that’s fresh and exciting.
I have at least two in mind, but I also have to remember that the novel isn’t done yet, and the current plan requires quite a bit more work before I can shift gears to focus properly on something new. And then there’s all the reading I want to do. There are so many great books about the craft of writing, and I want to read them all. And that’s the aspect of my writing life that’s being most neglected at the moment.
But, the end of the Six Month Novel Programme is in sight (and it’s been an amazing and very productive experience), and there are developments in my day job that may mean I’ll be going down to three days a week in the office before the end of the year. Maybe I can work out a schedule where I spend three days in the office, two and a half days writing, and still have a day and a half for fun and falling down.
So, I guess the answer is just to keep swimming. I need to ensure I make the most of the time I have available, but also that I take time to relax as well. Life is long, after all, and as long as I’m enjoying my writing, that’s still the most important thing.