Hello and welcome to another anxiety-fueled edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.
And what a struggle these last two days have been. You see, friends, I seem to have worked myself into a burnout.
As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I have always had a hard time finding a sustainable balance between my day job, my family, leisure time, and writing, and that conflict is once again coming to a head. Largely because I’ve decided that adding a part time writing gig (on top of my personal writing projects), a new self-care regimen of diet and exercise, and some new home improvement/housekeeping routines all at the same time would be a fabulous idea!!!!! THINK OF ALL THE THINGS I’LL GET DONE!
Hah, except when I feel so much like a wrung out sponge that I can barely drag my ass into the shower, much less wash a load of dishes, walk the dogs, put my kids in bed, read three chapters of a dense as hell book, come up with a couple new pitch ideas, write 1000 new words toward my WIP, and unwind with a little basketball or video game all in the same evening, like I’ve for some reason convinced myself is possible.
Part of me is convinced I’m at fault here. Other people do all these things, what the hell is the matter with me for not being able to keep up? Or, that if I took myself seriously as a “professional writer” I would make it work and since I haven’t that’s just proof that I can’t hack it at my dream job.
Another part of me knows that one solution would be to make sacrifices. Like… while I’m writing a “work” project, my personal WIP should be on hold. Make reading my leisure activity (even though I don’t really find it all that relaxing). Wake up earlier and go to bed later.
Or maybe I can compromise. Do “work” writing Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and personal writing Tuesdays and Thursdays. Figure out how to listen to audio books (I have audio processing issues which has historically given me to bounce them) so I can get my monthly reads in on the commute.
Or, become hyper-obsessed with budgeting my time. At 5:45 walk the dogs. 6-6:30 is washing dishes and making dinner. From 6:30-7:15 do “work” writing. From 7:15-8:15 is daughter’s guitar lesson. 8:15-9 is putting the kids in bed. 9-9:30 work on personal writing. From 9:30-10 read. 10 until bedtime relax. Except for Tuesdays and Thursdays when I have to blog. Does that fall under personal or work writing at this point? And the local critique group meets on Wednesdays (whenever the hell this pandemic is over, that is), how do I block out time then?
None of these are perfect solutions, which means I should probably make an attempt to cobble them together into some kind of grotesque amalgamation of a work/life balance, and… you know, that’s fine. If only my anxiety would stop giving me a guilt complex for not being able to do it all in a single day, that would be great.
So, I’m curious, for those of you who are in similar situations to mine: how do you survive the time squeeze? I mean I’m all ears for any tips and tricks. I have accepted the fact that I’m probably going to have to sleep less going forward if I want to make this work, and that my comfortable routines are going to have to budge up and make space. But most importantly, the last two days have shown me that what I’ve been doing is not sustainable. That first rush of endorphins from landing this new writing opportunity may have carried me through the first week of working almost non-stop, but those have worn off now and I’m left trying to make sure I can actually do all the things I promised myself I would.
And so ends another day in the life of just another struggling writer.
I almost didn’t even write this tonight. But I’ve actually, for the most part, managed to keep my blogging habit going and I’m really proud of it. So, even though I’m tired and crabby and want to watch the Voice while I work on my latest cross-stitch pattern, I wrote. And, today, that’s a win.
So I’ll be back next week, hopefully unclenched. I will most certainly not be ready to review my latest read as it is dense. Normally that would be grounds for my brain to excuse DNFing it, but it has so many elements I wanted for my now shelved Border Towns project that I know I have to finish it. For research purposes. Yes. So, all of that to say, I’m going to be slightly off my reviewing schedule. Hope that’s okay. Until Thursday, my friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.