How do I get it? I work full time, have a family and I'm a writer. What do YOU do to balance everything out and not go crazy? Is there a formula?



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I was already crazy to start with... otherwise I wouldn't have become an alternative high school teacher!

Other than that, time management. However you do it-- scheduled or not-- and set priorities. Is it more important to write or mop the floor. (I vote the floor can wait till next week) And so on. Since writing is my way to relax, I make sure to take time for it so that I don't get too stressed with all that I have to do. It's important to take time to just relax and do something you enjoy. Otherwise... well, what's the point of life if you don't enjoy at least part of it? =)
I have heard hundreds of writers agonize over this, men and women. Balance seems particular to the individual, but the successful ones all shared two things -- a partner or spouse who is supportive and understanding of the dream, and two, the discipline to cut out regular writing time.

What worked for me was to get up an hour earlier and dedicate that to my fiction. My wife understands if I fall asleep in my chair at night. Good luck!
I have recently started getting up at 5am. One of my favourite authors, Haruki Murakami, does it and I figured I could give it a shot. I'm a night person, 100%, but it is working now. The first week was hard. now it's harder to stay in bed.
I have a desk calendar where I keep what are essentially appointments for myself. Time for writing is scoped out, as well as what else has to get done. Regular things have their regular times. Thins that pop up are scheduled where I can find time for them, unless their urgent. Then something else might get bumped, but I do my best to reschedule it as quickly as possible.

Clair nailed the basic problem: which is more important, write or mop the floor? Everyone makes that call on their own, but I find it a lot easier to pass on Task A in order to write if I know I have time set aside for that task.
Life is about balance. How to find time to write without cutting out family, friends, exercise and other interests. Oh, and still bring home that paycheck.

I find I waste previous time on the internet. If I sit down at a computer, it's where I start. I'm trying to just check my e-mail sites, a few other sites, and get off. I've moved my writing to a computer in an upstairs bedroom which doesn't have internet access. I'll let you know if that helps. Now I'd better get off the internet.
This is an important question to which I have no answer. My wife and I have his-n-hers full-time teaching jobs (3/3 load, more like 4/4) and two little kids, age 4 and 1. My wife is also a writer. We can't afford a full-time nanny (we could if we didn't have to pay all the Social Security and unemployment and worker's comp, etc., but that's another story), or a household staff to do the laundry, wash the dishes, etc. Basically, we're screwed--we get some minimal writing time over the six-week winter break, and then we get about three months in the summer. Basically, if I want to write a book (and I'm required to publish in order to get tenure/promotions/ raises) I have to take time off, which means significant lost income. It's a trap: either I need a much lighter teaching load or more money from the stuff I write--or maybe a really smart, gentle St. Bernard to look after the kids--or all of the above. Good luck wit' dat, as they say.
One thing that helps me is accepting that I'm constantly moving the writing, the family, the bread-and-butter work, and the other demands and joys of my life back and forth between the front and back burners. People spend an awful lot of energy agonizing about what they're NOT doing while they're doing what they ARE doing, and that angst is not useful in any way. One trick to deal with the endless to-do list on any given day is allowing myself to leave one major item out. Some days I cross out exercising or household and financial maintenance tasks, other days it's the writing. They're all important, but I can usually fit everything MINUS ONE into a busy day. When I had a day job, I'd take an occasional mental health day. Now maybe I'll tell a client I'm unavailable and put the writing first--not always, but once in a while.
Balance? What's that? I can't write in the morning because I am too frequently chauffering someone at 6:a.m and this body was not meant for anything much earlier than that. I just have a rule and it's simple. I don't go to bed until I've written a page. Just one page. Sometimes it's written long hand as I sit on the couch wanting to go to bed, sometimes it's written in the car as I sit waiting for someone (I used to take a pad of paper with me everywhere--now thank God I have a PDA.) sometimes I actually make it to the computer. Many times, once I get the ball rolling, I write more than a page. But the rule is a page and if that's all I can do, it's okay. It satisfies that inner need to get something down and usually keeps the whole thing fresh in my head. Good luck!
I freed up a lot of time by cutting TV watching waaay back. Now it's basically The Daily Show, The Office and the occasional UNC basketball game when they're on.
It's immensely difficult and immensely rewarding. For me, sitting down and making a list of my real priorities was the first step.

Husband, pets, other immediate family, writing, helping organize the Killer Nashville Mystery and Thriller conference, working (since the full-time job helps pay the bills), and occasional "playing with friends" time. Fortunately, I just got my Masters last spring, so I can cross school off my priority list for now.

Next, I have a planner, the kind with a box for each day of the month and also a column on the side for notes. Each day, I write the number of words per day in the box for that day (if I'm editing, I just put the title in there to show i worked on it). I fill in the things I have to regularly, like writer's group, Sisters in Crime meeting, pizza night with my husband's family, etc. In the "notes" column, I write a list of tasks I need to get done that week or month. Each day, I choose the most important task(s) from the list and do them, then write them in the box for the day they were completed and cross them off the list. Every time I get some extra time, I try to do a task until they're all done. I just keep a sort of running tab. The lower priority things may get pushed to the next week/month, but eventually I get them all done. It makes me feel good to see my word count go up and to be able to cross things off the list, and I don't get too stressed out because the timeline for the tasks is somewhat fluid. I can see what needs to be done and how long I have to do it, so I can plan accordingly.

I think it would be harder if I had small children, but you might be able to come with a system that works for you and helps you find your writing time.

Good luck!
Commit to write just x number of pages a day. I try for five pages a day on each of my novels. 'Sounds a lot to some, but it really isn't. Pick a number and just write those pages. Then the rest of the day is devoted to the usual insanity of a normal household.
Thanks to all of you for your great replies and advice, and common sense. Because it doesn make sense. I'm going to take a bit of advice from each of you and try to make it work. One page or five a day, that doesn't sound so hard to accomplish. Cutting TV down? When hubby's not around I turn it off. Wasting time on the internet? Curbing that will be a hard one because I'm like you Cynthia. I just get on to check emails and before I know it I'm all over the place and hours have gone by, like today:) Setting priorities? I know how to do that, that's a big part of my job at work.

Have a great weekend my friends!


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