I? Am terrible at balance. (No, really. I am incredibly bad at this in many areas of my life.)
As a writer who writes every day, you might assume that I have actually figured this balance thing out and have some tricks to share. (People certainly have before.) That . . . is unfortunately not the case. By a long shot.
In fact, writing may be just about the only thing I have to ‘balance’ on a regular basis that never falls by the wayside entirely. (Now balancing different projects and types of writing? . . .that’s another story.)
When I have serious things to handle and address in Real Life, I . . . often throw myself into writing all the more in spite – or to take refuge. I handle things that I absolutely have to . . . mostly. Sometimes not quite when I meant to.
For example right now? I have several loads of laundry I meant to start days ago that I might actually get to today – maybe – and dishes that have been on the edge for a couple of days but were on the definite list for yesterday. Instead of washing dishes yesterday I worked on a piece in a Music Shuffle that got more complicated than expected.
When it was done I made some tea, started the next piece in the Shuffle, and watched the first episode of a J-Drama while I worked on it for a while. (It also got more complicated than expected; I went to bed before finishing this one. It’s still in-progress.)
After all . . . dishes can be done whenever, right? They never go away when I’m not looking. (Unfortunately.) They require no particular anything save time and energy. But sometimes writing is something I have to do right now or I’ll lose the idea, the words, or the next bit I have figured out just nebulously enough I can work it out as I write if I do it right now but couldn’t even take notes for later if I wanted to try.
This means I am being completely reasonable when I coast along forging through writing (whether in a part that is a sticky, difficult, half-figured slog or one that is quick and eager to be written), right? I may use this to back up my decision (intentional or accidental) to keep or start writing instead of accomplishing other things a little more than I probably should, but I do truly believe it can be a solid piece of reasoning.
A further illustration of a balance problem for me? I’m finishing this post instead of sleeping. Now, granted, I have some pretty heavy insomnia problems and it isn’t unusual for me to stay up very late indeed (if I see the sun coming up it’s definitely bedtime – or too late for there to be a bedtime tonight) but it’s just about dawn now. And it’s Monday, so this isn’t a last-minute deadline scramble either (that happens sometimes).
But I have words, and some vague thoughts, so I stayed up to play with them. Because for me, an overwhelming amount of the time, the words win out. I do what I have to – I always have clean clothes (though maybe not my favourites), cook meals (though often not on time or even on the days I planned), and generally attend to the necessaries of life. I do other creative things, and fun stuff, and heck, I even spent a lot of yesterday (between reading a very big novel) skipping off on writing either this post or my complex story by playing a silly flash game as a ninja taking out zombies.
For all that, much of the time it feels more like I am stealing time away from writing to do those necessary things of life than like I am winnowing out time to write from the realities of life. Writing, creating, playing with words is my passion. One of my strongest ones. (Maybe the strongest.) It’s what draws me in, no matter where my head is. It makes me think, it makes me happy, it makes me want to scream, sometimes it makes me doubt my sanity. Of course it takes over a lot of my life.
Do I wish I had a better ability to balance life with writing? Definitely. But would I give up the ability to hear the siren call that keeps me in this odd little dance to get it? Absolutely not.
Maybe someday I’ll get better (in some ways I’ve gotten better than I used to be already; in some ways I’m worse), figure out a trick or super-secret technique to balancing everything I have on my hands. But for now? There are worse spots to be.