The B Word for Writers

The B word, in case you were wondering, is balance.  This is a state of being that has been much on my mind of late. Indian-iowa-child-1051775-l

Because, recently I've been stepping it up.  Out in the world, pressing the flesh like a politician, meeting people, talking about what I do.  And doing more at home, too, such as designing a new teleclass, putting together new coaching packages (coming soon), and studying marketing.

All this is the result of having joined the 10K Coaching Club from Suzanne Evans, the sole purpose of which is to kick the butt of everyone (there's about 100 of us) who have made this commitment.  Its freakin' awesome, I have to say, even if I am terrified half the time.  (Network?  Who, me?  But I'm a writer! Do I have to?)

So I've been going full steam ahead for a few weeks.

Until yesterday.  After a phone call, and another call and a networking lunch and another call and yet another one I had scheduled myself time to write.

Instead, I crashed. 

Stared at the computer screen as if I'd never seen it before.   Watched the words blur on the page as if I'd never been able to string any together in a sentence.  Until finally it occurred to me that I had burned myself out.  Suzanne Evans says people naturally fall into one of two categories: sprinters or marathoners.  Sprinters go full out and then crash.  Marathoners work at a more measured pace, conserving some energy for the long haul.  And when I stopped to think about it, turns out I'm a marathoner.  A marathoner currently doing her best to pretend to be a sprinter.

People (and I include myself in this), let's remember lesson number one of writing, doing business, or living a life: be yourself.

Be your own flippin' wonderful self, not someone else. 

In my case, that means quit trying to be a sprinter and do what comes naturally, taking the slow and steady pace of a marathoner.  After I realized this I made myself a handy little list about what, specifically, will keep me in marathon balance as I continue to step it up.  (Cuz, I ain't pulling back on that commitment, oh, no.)  Here's what I came up with:

1.  Get Clear on Why.  My answer to this is simple: my family.  Besides the fact that everything I do, I do for my family, it also means that I'll always take time for them.  That's an iron-clad rule.  Having one or two iron-clad rules in life can be a handy guidepost.

2.  Understand Money.  Yeah, so I'm working on this one.  I'm learning to see money as a neutral force, not the substance to which I assign so much emotional value.  As a part of this campaign, I am currently reading The Soul of Money by Lynn Twist, which I highly recommend.  Money is such an integral part of our lives, and let's face it, if you don't have any, it is hard to be in balance.  Yet having too much can pull us out of whack, too.

3.  It's About You, Baby.  You've all heard this on planes a million times: if oxygen bags are needed, secure your own first, because otherwise you'll pass out and not be able to help anyone else, like your adorable child sitting next to you.  In other words, if you don't take care of yourself, we all go down.  So do what it takes: an Artist's Date, taking time to read a book, going to the movies, acupuncture or massage, a wine date…whatever it is that works for you, do it.

4.  Journal.  Journaling is my all-purpose answer to everything.  I usually do it first thing in the morning.  Try it.  It's a life saver.  You can use your journal to make lists, to ask yourself questions, to answer questions, to ask God questions, write a letter, describe your life as if you were describing it to an alien.  Or anything else you feel like writing.

5.  Know That Sometimes It Will Be Hard.  I committed to the 10K program precisely because I wanted someone to kick me in the ass and make me work harder.  I wanted to work harder because I want to serve more people and in doing so serve my family better.  And so I have to accept that sometimes it will be hard.  And when it is, I'll deal with it one way or another.

6.  Check Out.  But do this in a healthy way, please.  When I say "check out" I mean taking a break from the world.  Good ways to do this are prayer, meditation, the above-mentioned journaling, getting lost in a book, making art, wandering around in nature.  I'm sure you can think of a ton more.  Another way to check out is to take a break from social engagements and meetings.  I just bowed out of my weekly writer's meeting tonight.  I know it will be fun and instructive, but ultimately I realized it would wear me out more.

7.  Celebrate.  Par-tay!  When something good happens, reward yourself!  Life is way better when you celebrate all its glory along the way.

So there you have it, my seven guidelines to remember for balance.  What are yours?

 PS.  There's still time to sign up for my book proposal teleclass!  The fastest and easiest way to sell a non-fiction book is with a book proposal, so let me show you how to put one together.  It could be your ticket to a freer life!

Photo by TushyD, from Everystockphoto.  Used under Creative Commons 2.5 license.

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9 Comments on "The B Word for Writers"

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Zan Marie
Guest
06/03/2011 14:27

Balance–that’s that we all need and I seldom accomplish. It’s feast or famine with words for me.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
06/03/2011 15:25

Yeah, and that’s okay, too, Zan Marie, because obviously it works for you. You’ve achieved your own unique kind of balance there!

Jarvis
Guest
06/06/2011 12:52

I wish I could balance my focus on my book and my freelance writing. It’s hard.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
06/06/2011 15:06

Yeah, I hear you, Jarvis. Me, too. I’m attempting to balance working on my novel with my coaching and all the other things I’m doing. One thing that has helped me is chunking. I have reserved Friday afternoons for working on fiction. It is not a lot, but it is something. Some Fridays everything else encroaches, but even if that happens I make it a point to spend even a few minutes on the novel. And so far, it is working out well. Good luck to you in your efforts.

Square-Peg Karen
Guest
06/06/2011 16:14

I like to look at the big picture when I consider balance – learned that when my kids (now adult) were unschooling & they’d get real interested in one topic (at the expense of others) and then, eventually, move on to the next thing — it all balanced out (but was easy to freak out over in the moment).

Thanks for this article – so many things resonated for me (reminders! reminders! I can’t get enough of them). Love your open and friendly writing style!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
06/07/2011 07:15

Thanks for stopping by, Karen. Your comments about how your kids learned, diving into one topic and then another, resonate with me. That’s how I am, I tend to get very interested in one thing and then move on. But that tendency is drummed out of us and because of that I’ve worried that I’m just flaky. So you reminded me of something important, too!

Square-Peg Karen
Guest
06/07/2011 09:18

Yes, Charlotte – I think many of us (dare I say MOST?) enjoy delving into topics to our heart’s content, rather than in the 45 min. increments allotted in classrooms. And then, of course, moving to the next exciting subject.

So glad that my comment reminded you of something as well!!

Patrick Ross
Guest
06/08/2011 07:54

Great post, I admire your proactive approach to the challenge of balance.

I find I beat myself up for the ambitions I let slide, rather than celebrate the achievements on others. I have been overprogramming myself, working on about ten or so different projects/ambitions. I’m starting to narrow my focus, which helps.

I don’t know if I’m a sprinter or a marathon runner. Middle distance, maybe? 🙂

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
06/08/2011 21:15

Hey Patrick, Well, seeing as how you’re just starting an MFA program, I can see why you might be feeling a bit overextended. And even though we all deal with it at times, beating ourselves up never helps anything!

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