By Terreece M. Clarke
I love to write. I start or work out article kinks in my head while I lie in bed waiting to fall asleep. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to write, when I’m going to write and where my writing is going to be published. But there is a problem, I write and think about writing and work the business of writing too much.
Writers are always told they need to write all the time and immerse themselves in their craft, and that’s true. But we advice-givers also need to stress the importance of balance. When things get off balance, your writing will suffer.
My life is pretty busy right now, I’m expecting our third baby, am in the middle of graduate school, have my writing career, trying to grow my corporate writing business and somehow maintain a healthy life outside of computers and diapers. As a result I’m forgetting everything. The “write it down, check it twice” mantra? Gone. Lately it’s been “tell me and I’ll pray I remember.”
When you focus on one thing too closely, you lose sight of the big picture. I got off track and I guarantee you’ll get off track too. It’s part of the writing experience. So what do you do to get back on?
Admit it. No one wants to admit they’ve let things get out of control, but if you are barely making deadlines, your kitchen has a funky stench to it and your kids only sort of remember who you are, you’re out of balance. Likewise, if you’ve gained 10 lbs, your blood pressure is through the roof and you start sucking wind before you reach the top of a flight of stairs – it’s time to admit life is off track.
Embrace it and get over it. It happens to everyone. Things get busy, people lose focus, projects come up that consume every aspect of life – don’t beat yourself up over it, just realize you had one of those cycles and move on.
Get back to basics. Get back to the roots of your work/life. Regular work-outs, scheduled cleaning days, editorial calendars, monthly lunches with friends, etc. Get back to what made your life work well before. Incorporate new items into your basic framework, adjusting as needed. You may want to revisit your goals and make sure they still hold priority.
Watch for slip ups. Getting back on track usually takes about a week or two. Normally, people start with gusto and just when they think they are humming along swimmingly, they let down their guard and those old distractions and bad habits creep back in and start throwing up detour signs. What knocked you off track in the first place? Procrastination? Illness? Paycheck Panic? Over-scheduling? Wintertime Blahs? Whatever the cause, identify it and try to work out a solution or Plan B.
Have you’ve gotten off track? What do you do when it happens to you?