Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Balance Act

Also known as Priorities and Finding Time for it All

Life can be chaos. Between work, school, friends, family, chores, sleep, hobbies, and such, it's hard to find the time each day to get everything done. One has to figure out priorities, putting some items before others each day. I’m not the best at balancing thing, I have to admit. I can focus on one activity in particular while the others fall to the side for that time. Then the next month, my focus changes. But I keep trying to get a better balance.

For fun, I’m calling this a tri-balance, as it’s the balance of three important tasks for a writer: writing, reading and editing. All three are important aspects that a writer needs to work on, no matter the stage or commitment level of the writer. Writing is the obvious one since that is what a writer does. Reading and editing are related though, both very important to the process. Combined, they are a trifecta.

Trouble is how to get them all done.

I'm not good at balance. Over a whole year I can get some stuff done, but each month I tend to focus on just one or two tasks. November, of course, is writing. I take part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each year, focusing on novel writing. I have succeeded the last few years (100k or more), but I have to admit that I get no reading done and definitely no editing. In April, this year, I took part in the A to Z blog challenge using my book review blog. I had to read books in order to have something to review, though thankfully I didn’t have to do all 26 of them. I managed to read 8 books, which is almost as many books as I read all of last year. (Sad, I know.) And I have done at least one month where my focus rested on editing, like getting the edit notes for my novel together some time last year.

Now, I'm trying to find a balance again. It's not an easy task. Part of what helps for me is making goals. I have a writing group that was inspired by NaNoWriMo. While it's not the most active group, I can use my own forum to make goals geared towards all three in order to achieve a tri-balance. I try, at least, even if I don’t always achieve what I set out to do each month.

It doesn't have to be goals, though. Lists, plans, challenges, accountability, the trick is finding something that will work for you because not every writer is the same. Maybe you can't do all three at the same time. That's okay too if looking at the bigger picture. Maybe each month needs a different focus. Or maybe you don't like balance at all. Some work best with chaos and can't deny that either. Do whatever works for you.

Me? I'm still trying to get a tri-balance with the exception of certain months, like November. But other months, I’m trying to get more of a balance going for reading, writing and editing. It’s a work in progress.

How do you balance writing, editing and reading?
Do you focus on 1 each month, or have another method?