So here I am, trying to put an instinct into words…
The UnBalanced Writer
During work hours, it’s butt in chair and hands on keyboard (or pen on manuscript pages), but when we stand up from the desk… the work day doesn’t necessarily end, not like the flick of a switch. A writer’s mind has a tendency to keep on working, collecting impressions and making notes, arranging thoughts, trying on new ideas, drafting up the next paragraph for the next project…
Okay, that’s not universal. One novelist friend of mine does have the ability to switch-on/switch-off — but I certainly don’t know any freelance commercial writers with that kind of mental discipline… sigh.
It can be a high-wire act — chasing deadlines and spinning those pithy lines with a pot bubbling over on the stove, a child and a dog locked in friendly combat at high volume, and a frazzled client gasping on the phone…
How do you maintain balance in your life?
For Lillie, it’s about setting a schedule that’s suited to her post-stroke needs, and reminding herself that “self” has a right to stand high on the list of priorities.
For Mihaela, it’s steeping herself in the simple pleasures, the wonderful gifts of nature and loved ones, then writing out her worries to understand them and reach a place of peace.
For me, it’s about balancing life by balancing the senses, I guess. A writer’s work is mental, symbolic, and essentially solitary. In off hours, then, I do my best to go the other direction, and immerse myself in the physical, concrete, and social.
- Georganna of the ever-useful Writer’s Edge;
- Rashenbo of Writing Aspirations, who gets an award just for staying sane last week;
- My multi-talented pal Sharon of Get Paid to Write;
- Pam of Writing, Work and Weasels; and
If this is a question you’d like to weigh in on, great!
And please do feel free to leave a link to your life-balance post in the comments here.
If a meme’s not your thing, though, that’s cool too… we all seek balance in our own ways, right?
Not that I’m an athlete, by any means! I cook and keep the house clean, of course, and do bits of yard work, of which there is an unending supply — tomorrow, for sure, I have to get on with pruning the orchard! — hike in the woods with my dogs (and/or a congenial human companion), tend the bees, help a neighbour shingle his roof, that kind of thing…
Even a short gardening break, or a quick walk in the meadow can shake off the cobwebs and lift my mood.
Words are slippery things, and no matter how clearly I write I can never convey precisely what’s in my mind to every single reader. Working on a documentary is even more frustrating — film is a collaborative medium, and a script can go through endless transitions before it hits the screen. That’s why I like to paint and sew and craft in my leisure time, working to my own design and holding the results in my hands.
That’s also why I moonlight with a paintbrush in hand and toolbelt at my waist, I suppose. It’s not enough to design a theme decor, I need to install it myself when I can — even if that means figuring out a way to suspend a life-size lizard from a 15-foot ceiling, invisibly, without endangering my own or others’ life and limb! (Yeah, true, this comes in under the “physical” heading as well…)
In my foolish youth I was out “on the town” almost constantly and travelled extensively on business — can’t imagine where the stamina came from! Nowadays, now that I’ve grown more sensible (or lazy, or domesticated, or possibly hermit-like), it practically takes a small bulldozer to drag me away from home base.
So I make a point of making commitments that force me to go out among other people: hospital visitations with my therapy dog, night school classes to explore new hobbies and interests, door-to-door collecting for charity, that kind of thing. (Heavens, don’t I make myself sound so revoltingly noble!)
Better yet, I love having people come in to visit! Hardly an evening goes by without a friend or neighbour appearing at the door — yesterday it was my next-door neighbour’s grandchildren, showing off a new yo-yo trick — and I put on the tea kettle, dig out the cookies or bake a batch while we talk. Because this is the Canadian Maritimes here, my ducks… home of the Kitchen Party…
See, we born-and-bred Maritimers are pretty darned good at the whole life-balance thing, as a people. It’s in our culture, our lifestyle, our traditional priorities, and possibly in our very genes. And on top of all that, I’m extra-blessed with the example of an “unfizzable” mother, who, when faced with ten unexpected dinner guests, simply welcomed them in — and put some water in the soup.
Yes, that’s my recipe for keepping life in balance:
Get up and move, push your boundaries, look outward, and put a little water in the soup. Don’t sweat the small stuff. We only get one shot at this life, unless there really is something to this reincarnation business. Might as well live like it means something… and the balance, I think, will follow.
How do you maintain life balance?