So far in 2020, I have been surrounded by words. Words in translation. Memories drawn from the far reaches of my brain. Stories spun from the minds of others. So many glorious words.
I am talking about not only reading, but also writing!
Last year was a tough one for my reading pile. I didn’t make much of a dent in it, which I accepted as a trade-off for expanding my social circle. A good deal, but I missed books. And I struggled to find time to get words on the page too. Every year I hope to have a book or two of my own completed, and every year the rough drafts sit mocking me with their refusal to reach the end of their tales.
I get it. We need to interact with people. We need to give fodder to life in order to birth inspiration on the page. I know. But I happen to have a few more books read so far this year and several more words on the page. I am pretty pleased with both of those accomplishments. Of course, my social life has been a little quieter in the interim.
Time Management of Words
So, how does one balance that?
I generally read at night when I climb into bed, and also like to indulge on weekend mornings. Sometimes there are even bubble baths to escape to with the livre du jour. I don’t have a big commute (a perk and drawback of working from home), so can’t squeeze in a chapter or two on the way to a job. Listening to e-books while at the computer doesn’t work for me; I can’t concentrate on both tasks at once most times. And while I usually remember to take a book with me to appointments, the reading window is usually negligent at best. Social gatherings are sacred and should involve undivided attention to whomever you are lucky enough to spend time with.
Perhaps that means that I need to let go of grand plans to read massive piles of books each year, but also to make sacred the moments when I do enjoy reading. Leave the party early to get in 15 minutes of escape between the pages of a book. Or join the fun later, after I finish a chapter of whichever novel I am in the middle of. Fellow readers will get it. And those who don’t shouldn’t be my problem.
How about writing? I could get up an hour early to fit in some writing time, but my brain usually needs coffee to function before productivity occurs. It’s not going to happen. Same thing for the end of the day. I could return to the computer for a spell in the evening to jot down some precious prose, but I need to see my kids sometime. Not to mention that I need a break from the screen sometimes too. There is lunchtime, but there is also food. I like to eat. Need to, every once in a while, in fact.
These pesky problems used to hold me back, but I made a concession that helped. I added a once a week writing group to my weekly schedule. It is just an hour, but an hour I always seemed to struggle finding before. It is a slow process, but I have made progress where once there was none. And this month, I partnered with another woman who was also struggling to get words on the page. We meet once a week for a few hours to write, which brings my total to three precious hours of writing time on TWO different projects. I am hitting my writing stride, and finding that because I have to manage my time better, I am balancing it all better.
I know there will be moments when it all falls apart. Summer holidays are always disastrous for writing in my world. There is never enough time to read in the lead-up to Christmas. But oh my goodness, the memories and fun I have! No regrets. And if I get to spend quality time with someone, I need to remind myself that real people are worth my time too (instead of mere characters in books). Interpersonal relationships bring joy in so many ways. If I can balance reading, writing, and relationships—WOW! Think of how happy I will be.
What does your balance look like?