January 27, 2011

Welcome to the Circus! Juggling a home life, day job, writing career and hobbies all at once!

Good evening, Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welkom! This is the Floating Robes Circus, bringing you tonight the great juggler Mr. Admiraal himself! Watch his amazing act as he juggles a home life, writing career, a day job and his hobbies all at once!

But seriously, folks, it can be a task, sometimes, and I'm sure more of you are struggling with finding the time and energy to combine it all. So here's how I do it.

1) Prioritize! Understand that not everything is equally important. This goes without saying, doesn't it? So if you have a choice to make between several things, ask yourself: What can wait? What did you spent most of your time on recently? And then make your choice. And yep, sometimes your writing really can't wait!

2) Find the time to write. I experimented with writing in the evening and in the morning and since I'm not really a morning person, I found writing at night to be the most relaxing. Of course, this can bite heavily into your sleeping time, but that's where point nr. 3 comes in.

3) Let your subconscious work for you! In the morning I read about a page of something I've been working on and when at my day job my subconscious does the rest! Sometimes, during a slow part of the day, I think back to the story and all of a sudden it will come to me. I usually jot it down, put it in my pocket and work on it at night.

4) Be honest with yourself! Do you really enjoy that television program all that much? When you're really honest with yourself a lot of things you do during the day are really not all that necessary. So scratch them and use the time to write. Scratching a TV-program from your daily (or weekly) schedule can sometimes open up an entire evening for you to write.

5) Use the little moments! Every day we have a few lulls in which we can blog or check e-mail or re-read a page of manuscript or do some other small stuff. But we don't, because it's just fifteen minutes. What can a person do in 15 minutes? A lot! I'm writing this post between doing dinner and picking up my fiance from her weekly Dutch course. I know it won't be finished in time, but hey, I got to point 6 didn't I?

6) Show to your friends and family this really means a lot to you! Share your successes also, so they can see you're dedicated and good. If you don't do this, they will not 'get' how important writing is to you and they will feel disappointed when you tell them you have to finish this story or rewrite the first draft. If you show them what this means to you, they will understand or even encourage you.

7) Write in the bed! Or any old place that's yours and where others won't easily get to you. I keep a notebook next to my bedside. Sometimes I go up one or two hours earlier to write. I get a good solid 1000 words in before its time to go to sleep.

8) Dedicate days to writing! Say to yourself: "Today is for writing." and let it be known to others that you're not to be disturbed. This is important to you. If they love, they'll get it. Turn off your phone, disable Internet, close your laptop! It's just you and the notebook now! Let's get cracking.

9) If it ain't happening, it ain't happening! Don't sit and stare for hours at a blank page, getting slowly frustrated and down. It's helping nobody and least of all yourself! Go spent some time with your family, go for a run or a walk or do some of those chores that really needed doing. Inspiration will come and time will free up. Have some faith!

10) Understand you're only human... Although we'd like to be able to be a successful writer, a family man and have at least some degree of respect from your colleagues at work, you got to understand that being on edge constantly is not good for a person. So from time to time, take some time off, travel, see the world, enjoy the wondrous beauty of nature and just.... relax...

These are just some tips. Of course, there's loads more ways to find to balance all these things at the same time, but these are just some that have worked for me. Hope you found them helpful as well.

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