Balance vs. Excellence
Let's begin with balance. It has been a bit of a massive buzz word the past few years, with experts telling us we need it in our lives and offering advice on how to achieve it. Seems it's what we're all looking for, that elusive balance between working hard and taking time off to enjoy the fruits of our labors.
What does balance look like? For me, its something like this:
–I rise early after sleeping well.
–I head to the computer, ignore my email inboxes, and work on my novel.
–After a rousing writing session, I eat breakfast and shower.
–The rest of the day is spent working on assignments or coaching.
–After dinner I take a walk and am able to relax and watch trash TV or read.
Plenty of time to work, plenty of time to relax. Balance.
But lately, I've read some things dissing balance, saying it really isn't all that it's cracked up to be. That balance equates mediocrity and who wants to be mediocre? Chris Guillebeau, whose writing I admire, wrote about it a few weeks ago (and of course, now I can't find the exact link. But go check out his site anyway. After you're done here, of course.
What does the other way look like? (Loosely, we'll call it the pursuit of excellence.)
–It looks the same throughout the day, with the exception that I probably rise earlier.
–After dinner, I'm not wasting my life watching stupid TV. Nuh-uh. I'll return to my office and work late into the night, only to get up early and do it all again the next day.
As I was writing this post, I got an email from somebody hyping a telecall discussing how important it is to achieve balance, because if you don't, you'll blow out your adrenals, with drastic consequences to your health. Which is the antithesis of working all hours to finish a project.
So what's a writer to do? Which way to seek?
My answer: I dunno.
What I do know is that my life bounces between the two extremes and I suppose that is its own kind of balance. I love, love, love the days when I've had a satisfying and productive day and can knock off by 5:30 or so. But I kind of like the weeks when I'm madly working to finish a million things, and return to my computer for at least an hour, if not longer, in the evening.
As a vote for the side of balance, I know that creativity begins in the darkness, in the quiet hours we sit in silence and if we're rushed and stressed new ideas are not going to arrive in our psyches.
As a vote for the side of excellence at all costs, I also know that I desire to create a life and body of work of high caliber and have no desire to be mediocre. And if that requires staying up late a few nights, so be it.
How about you? What works best for you?
Create a successful, inspired writing life: Experiment with scheduling your writing and other responsibilities and see what works best for you.
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Photo by dancerinthedark.