The Balancing Act: One Writer’s Struggle to Get it Together

You may (wishful thinking) have read my blog post in which I pleaded to all my fellow bad girlz of the world for help on getting through a rough writing patch. And I mean ROUGH.  Well, I’ve been taking some time to reflect on all the wonderful advice I received, and try to get to the root of the problem.  I began a mission to figure out where it all went wrong.  Why wasn’t I able to write 5000 words again, at the kitchen table, the TV blaring, the kids fighting, and my husband giving me the stink eye?  Where was that Jenna P when I needed her to help me kick my writing drought’s ass?  I kept searching and searching for her, trying to figure out where she went.

But all I found was more stress.

Rather than successfully ignoring the mess around me, it compounded my stress.  I became frustrated with my family because they needed me to be a mom and a wife – imagine the nerve!  I became agitated with anything extra that popped up, because it was stealing away my writing time.  I resented anything that reminded me that I couldn’t do those things anymore.  And then by the time I actually had time to write – I was so worked up I couldn’t think straight.

And then…I’d do it all over again.

“They say the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result…”

From the song, Try It Again, by THE HIVES

 Well. Just call me The Hatter.

Suddenly it all made sense. Maybe it wasn’t getting better because I kept trying the same old things.  Maybe the same old things didn’t work anymore because I wasn’t the same old Jenna P.  Maybe I wasn’t the same old Jenna P anymore because my life required a different Jenna P.

Maybe it was time to rebalance my life.

So I literally sat down and began to make a list of all of my chores, commitments, interests, and wishes. And then I opened EXCEL and began trying to fit it all in to my calendar (Why, yes.  I AM an engineer!).  After this little exercise, two things became abundantly clear to me.

  1. It didn’t all fit.
  2. Thank God the old Jenna P was gone, because she wouldn’t have been able to deal.

Life is dynamic. Things change.  Our family’s needs change.  Our psyche’s change.  Our interests change. WE change.  What worked for us before might not work for us now.  No, the kitchen table wouldn’t do – I needed an office.  No, I couldn’t write in the evenings – I needed to write in the mornings.  No, I couldn’t write for hours straight anymore because I’m old and need to stretch my legs more.  No, I shouldn’t kill myself throughout the week to have Friday’s off to write, because I end up doing the laundry, housework, and errands I avoided in doing so.  No, I shouldn’t compare myself to my other writer friends, because our lives are completely different as are our commitments.

So, I created my own space (which we’ve moved a couple of times, but I think I finally found the most comfortable place). I started looking for a new job, which I think has been the biggest root of my issues.  Until that happens, I decided to work Fridays and go in at 9 instead through the week so I could write in the mornings (optimizing my time by eliminating rush hour traffic!).  I devoted my evenings to my family, so that I don’t feel like I’m constantly running behind.  I decided I simply couldn’t keep up the pace with many of my friends, so I needed to find a pace that worked for me.  And most importantly, I scheduled downtime, because nothing zaps creativity more than exhaustion.

Maybe I can’t write 5000 words a day anymore, but I’m okay with that. The important thing is that I’m writing, and if all I have time for is an hour a day – so be it.  Because that’s who I am RIGHT NOW.  When things change, I’ll figure out who I need to be THEN.

Jenna P.

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