Walking a Tightrope: Striking a Balance Between Writing, Working, and Living Your Life.
By: Nigeria Lockley | www.nigerialockley.com | Writing Fiction For the Renewed Mind
None of those words are synonymous with a writer’s life. Especially, if you’re a write who, like me must walk a tightrope. You have to divvy up your time between home, work (the job that pays the bills until you win the Noble Peace Prize for literature), and the pursuit of your passion—writing.
Time is a factor and a force that we all fight with regardless of what you have to whether you have a deadline to or dinner to cook there are only twenty-four hours in a day. Honestly, I haven’t found a great deal of balance on my journey (it’s still early), but I have figured out some ways to get things done without going crazy.
You have to accept the fact that you can’t get everything done all at once. You have to accept the fact that if you want to do really well as a writer you may have to neglect, skip, or glaze over some things. I’m not saying don’t feed the fish, walk your dogs, or ignore your kids, but writing is demanding. It demands that you remain physically stationary yet you have to leave your world and enter into the story world. That means you might not be able to cook a five course meal every night or in my case create elaborate zig-zag braids on two full heads of hair. Some days of the week my kids have to settle for cornrows straight down their heads. Now that I’ve accepted that I’m okay.
So, you have a brief to submit for work, costumes to sew, or a football game to coach and the next great American novel is buried deep within the recesses of you mind. Of course, you’re scrambling and struggling to find time to type or outline the plot, or your beyond that point—you need to develop your author’s platform. Steal the time. Look at the areas in your life where you waste time or can actually do two things at once. For instance, I realized that my commute to and from work is half an hour both ways. Rather than sit on the train aimlessly waiting to arrive at my 9-5 (okay, it’s really 8:47-3:45, but who’s counting), I whip out my laptop or cellphone pound out some words or work on my marketing strategy. I’m now actually thankful for train delays (all things work together to the good of them that love God). If you’re commute to work involves driving use the voice memo function on your phone, tablet or IPad to record yourself and transcribe later.
Set Up, Stick To, and Share Your Schedule
Writing is work. On any other job you have a schedule and your husband can’t show up there asking you to iron his trousers, your wife can’t ask you to fix the garbage disposal, your children can’t ask you to bake sugar cookies, and your best friend cannot call you and ask you to accompany her on an emergency shopping trip to the mall. You must set up a schedule for your writing time. You have to carve out time to make yourself available to your muse and the process whether your muse is an early morning entertainer, a midnight marauder, or stops by every so often during lunch. You have to stick to your schedule and protect that time. It might take a while, but once others see how serious that time is and how you guard it they will begin to do the same. Lastly, make sure you share your schedule with those in your life whom it will affect. Tell your partner what dates and times are off limits. Tell your children which dates and times you’ve set aside to get your work—your writing done and be sure to tell your bestie, so she won’t show up at your doorstep unannounced for shopping rendezvous.
Do what works for you.
I’ve read numerous articles written by some of the most prolific authors in my genre offering tips on writing and after trying many of them I discovered that they don’t work for Nigeria. Their methods don’t meet my needs. The same may hold true for you. Writing during your commute might not be the best vehicle for you to use to reach your destination despite it being such a powerful tool for me (you know I typed this post while on the train). However, you might not be able to get things done while people are walking back and forth, coughing beside you, and young men are break dancing in the aisle. Maybe you can steal time while doing the laundry or while the hubby is out golfing. Try everything until you find the system that is going to satisfy your needs as a writer and allow you to strike a balance between your personal needs and professional needs.
These are just four ways that I’ve been able to find balance as an author, educator, wife, and mother. I haven’t arrived yet. Some days my kids look like they don’t have a mother. Sometimes my living room floor doesn’t get swept, but I’m getting closer to becoming a better tightrope walker. There are many other systems to save time and get things done, join the conversation: How are you other authors taking care of business? Which one of these methods will you be using to develop a balance?
About Nigeria Lockley’s Writing
Nigeria Lockley’s debut novel Born at Dawn is scheduled to be released this fall, on September 30, 2014. Born at Dawn chronicles what happens to the members of the Barclay family when their matriarch decides she can no longer wait on God for her deliverance. Abandoning her hope, her husband, and her two young sons, Cynthia boards a bus from New York City to Richmond, Virginia. She begins a new life armed with six thousand dollars on a prepaid credit card, a sketchy plan for success, and a promise to return for her sons—that is, until she meets Cheo, a photojournalist with enough connections to take her where she wants to be and help her forget where she came from. After six years in Richmond, Cynthia’s dark past resurfaces. At the risk of losing it all—her past and her present—Cynthia returns home to right her wrongs. Has Cynthia chosen the right time to return home, or is it too late for God to restore everything she has broken?
Excerpt from Nigeria Lockley’s forthcoming novel, Born at Dawn
The transition from sinner to saint wasn’t easy for Cynthia. The moment she walked in the door from her first trip to Mount Carmel, the devil was waiting to tempt her.
“Where you been all day?” Marvin huffed at her while she helped the boys out of their jackets.
“We went to church today, Daddy.” At nine years old, James was the official family reporter. He was still struggling with learning the difference between what should be uttered and what should not be. “You should have come with us. A friend of yours was there.”
Twelve-year-old Keith slapped James in the back of his head, trying to demonstrate his superiority. “He wasn’t there. He’s the pastor.”
“The pastor?” Marvin asked with his eyebrows scrunched together. “Did you take the kids to that joke of a church, Mount…?” Marvin snapped his fingers. “Mount…”
“Mount Carmel Community Church. It’s not a joke. It’s a lovely place, Marv,” Cythia said resolutely. “Are you hungry?” She quickly tried to stave off the inevitable—Marvin’s monologue on the legitimacy of Pastor David’s ministry.
According to Marvin, Pastor David could not be trusted since he’d abandoned his street life and friendship with Marvin to pursue the ministry. Every time they walked past Mount Carmel or anyone mentioned it, Marvin had to trudge through the past.
“Of course I’m hungry. You left me here alone to fend for myself, and you know I can’t go on without two things.” Marvin wrapped his hands around her dime-sized waist, pulled her in close to his body and stared in her eyes. “I can’t go on without your loving.” He brushed back a few loose strands of Cynthia’s burgundy hair and planted a wet kiss on her lips. “And I certainly can’t make it without your cooking, girl.”
Cynthia could see through the act. She knew Marvin was trying to smooth whatever feathers his behavior had wrinkled the previous day, and it wasn’t working. It took every atom of Cynthia’s fragile being to cook Marvin’s food without spitting in it. Cynthia called it a small victory every time she was able to inflict some pain on Marvin unbeknownst to him, like the time she put ex-lax in his cupcakes.
Small victories were no longer satisfying. She wanted more. Peace or blood. Cynthia envisioned Marvin’s chiseled face bubbling upon contact with the olive oil that was now sizzling in the pan. “Peace, peace, think about peace. You just left church,” she chided under her breath.
That kept her from acting on her impulses and the voices of vengeance echoing in her head.