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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ten Signs Your Writing Is Hurting Your Life

One of my New Years goals – I don’t make resolutions – is to find a better balance between my real life and my writing life. In my ideal world, I have endless hours for time to write. In reality, I have to eek out writing time, and sometimes I carve it out at the detriment to others and myself. For example, last summer I went with my husband and kids to visit my dad and looking back on the trip I realized I spent more time writing than actually visiting. I can’t get that time back, and I really regret letting my need to write take precedence over living my life. You cannot write without living life because in living life you are getting invaluable material to use in your writing. But sometimes it’s hard for a writer who is in the zone to remember this.

So far in 2011 I have done a better job at striking a healthy balance between life and writing, but let’s face it, we’re only twelve days into the New Year. When I woke up today, I had that burning need to write and block everything else out. Yes, my house needs cleaning, I haven’t worked out in several days, I need to go to the grocery store, and I need to file…I need to stop right here, because the list of everything I need to do goes on forever. Regardless of all those needs, I was determined to put all my chores on the back burner and start work on my new book. Unfortunately, my youngest child woke up sick. I gave him all the proper mommy hugs and attention, but I have to admit I felt a little underlying irritation that after three days of being snowed in with my kids my child would not be going back to school as I had planned. I plopped down at my kitchen bar for a good sulk and picked up the Wall Street Journal to read. In today’s paper, there is an article about ten signs whether your technology is interfering with your life. It struck me I could easily write a similar list for whether writing is interfering with your life. So here goes – ten signs to tell whether your writing is eclipsing the here and now.

1. You’d rather write about sex than have it.

2. You bring your computer to bed.

3. You bring your computer on vacation and spend more time in front of your computer than actually doing activities with your family.

4. You’d consistently rather write than spend time with your friends.

5. You never turn off your computer.

6. You sleep with your computer near you, jumping out of bed at various times during the night to key in some words.

7. You’re regularly late for appointments because you cannot pull yourself away from your writing.

8. You’ve had an argument, or several, with your spouse about how much time you spend writing.

9. You write while driving. I’m not talking about in your head. I mean you physically try to write ideas that strike you as you drive.

10. You read this list and are guilty of at least five!

I’m not saying that there are not times when writing should be your number one priority. What I am saying is that without life experiences your writing will not be as good as it could be. Now go out there, live life, AND write a fabulous story! I would love to hear if any of you struggle with finding a balance between work and real life, and what strategies you employ to help you achieve equilibrium.

Have a great day!

Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem


  1. I had to laugh at a few of these, Julie. I don't think I'm guilty of most of these, at least most of the time--but there are definitely occasions that some of them have happened!

  2. Julie, you certainly hit the mark when you write about how Americans struggle on a daily basis to find a good balance of time spent with their significant other, family, friends, work, social committments, shopping, paying bills, and keeping up with technology. Life is and has been in the fast lane for years. There are some of us who long for times past when Sunday was a leisurely day--maybe going to church in the morning, cooking lunch (dinner as we called it), cleaning up the kitchen, and the rest of the day was spent with grandparents, uncles aunts, and cousins--no stress, just fun and RELAXATION! It was "our" day and there was no more work to do until Monday. Our phones (land lines) rang on occasion, but we were not slaves to them.

    Most of us have pushed hard to better ourselves--better paying jobs, bigger, better homes, volunteers in our communities, etc. But, on our journey to "better our lives", many have forgotten how to enjoy our life--to be balanced and at peace with ourselves.

    I don't know the cure, but each new year, I make plans to do better--no resolutions--they do not work for me. My new attack for countering the daily onslaught of things that "need" to be done is to improve my organizational skills at home, work, and in every other aspect of my daily adventures. Each night I pray for the strength and guidance to improve ME the next day...being more productive at work and home...not worring about things that I cannot change, and living with focus and purpose.

    Yes, twelve days into the new year, I see tiny bits of improvement and these successes are pushing me forward to do even better. I like spending a little more time with my partner, not having to race around to iron clothes just before work, and having everything in place so I do not have to "hunt" for things needed. Yes, notching it down is good and the calm is uplifting.

  3. Lol, that's a timely warning for me!

  4. Ouch...you are stepping on my toes!

  5. Great blog, Julie! And great list! I definitely had a honeymoon phase when I first started writing. I would leave lunch dates with friends early to run home and jot down the scene I'd been plotting all through the lunch. LOL! Those were the days when both hubby and I worked, and before we had a kid, so I had plenty of time for my writing and all the other things I wanted or needed to do. Today, I made my To Do list of things that I both want and need to get done, then I threw it at my husband in tears and said, "When am I supposed to do all this?!?!?" At least I can check "Be a drama queen" off the list now, can't I? LOL!

  6. Wow ... only guilty of three and a half. Thought I'd die on this one when I first started reading.LOL. Have you noticed that you cant be late for an appointment if you're so caught up in writing that you forget to make them? Great post.

    PS: Yes the computer comes on holidays, but I don't spend most of my time with it.

  7. Guilty of a few of these, thankfully not the writing while driving one!

  8. I used to stay up writing until at least midnight every night and then pop out of bed at dawn because I couldn't wait to write. I couldn't enjoy my time with family or friends because I was thinking about my book. Now writing feels more like a job. I love it, but it's still a job, which means I don't want to be doing it all the time.

    I took a few days off the week of Christmas to spend with my family. We watched movies, played games and just hung out. (It helped that I finished my wip the week before Christmas, which was my goal.)

    I've stopped taking my laptop away on long weekends, and it only comes on vacation when I'm traveling to nationals.

    And I've made a promise to myself that if my hubby comes in the room to talk to me, I set the computer aside. Sometimes it takes me a minute or two to shift my focus, but I try really hard. :)

    I feel like I had to make those changes, because like you said, I needed to be living life.

  9. I realized this was a blog to read, when I noticed how well you were describing my flaw. I'll be back to really explore!

  10. I loved the list, Julie. My biggest problem with writing is the weight gain. I can get so lost in the story that I forget to exercise.