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Balancing It All and Learning to Say No



I think it's pretty safe to say that all of us struggle with the issue of balance from time to time (or in my case, all the time!) For the majority of us, writing isn't our primary job. We have day jobs out in the world or we have kiddos to take care of at home--or both (to those of you who are working full-time, writing, and being mommy or daddy at night--I bow down to you in true Wayne's World I'm-not-worthy style.)


Then on top of those jobs, we have husband and wives we want to spend time with, a house that needs to be cleaned, meals to cook, errands to run. Add in blogging and facebook and twitter and crit groups and beta reading and conferences and networking and running contest/blogfests and reading other people's post. Well, it can get overwhelming.

For the past year, I've tried to manage it all. I've blogged five days a week, wrote and edited two books, beta read for more people than I can count, been an active member of a crit group, and did all my mommy/wife/human being stuff. Well, okay, my house isn't all that clean and my husband has had to turn his socks inside out to wear them a second time on occasion.  But I've done a decent job.

However, now the stakes have been raised a bit. Having an agent has given me a new sense of urgency and purpose with my writing. I have a tentative deadline on when my rewrites would ideally be done so that I can go on submission sooner rather than later. So I'm working against a clock for the first time with my writing--something I'll hopefully being doing a lot of in the future. :) And that means a few other things have to give.

So I'm having to learn the value of saying "no". I'm a Southern girl--I was raised to always be welcoming, friendly, and helpful. If someone asks you for a favor, you do your best to help them out. Which has meant that anytime someone e-mails me and asks me if I can help them out with something, I say yes.

I want to help. I like helping. When one of you nice people emailed me recently asking for a critique, and I had to say no because I just had too much going on, I felt terrible. But saying yes all the time to others means saying "no" to my own writing, family time, or the other the things I need to do. Therefore, I'm going to have strike a balance and learn how to say no sometimes.

I also have decided to adjust my blogging schedule for a while. Anne R. Allen blogged yesterday about this topic and about "slow-blogging". I'm not moving to slow blogging--I love to blog too much--but I am going to cut back to three days a week for a while. So, expect posts from me M-W-F each week while I tackle these revisions.

So, what about you:? How do you find a balance? Do you have trouble saying no? What balls drop first when you're trying to juggle it all?


**Today's Theme Song**
"All the Small Things" - Blink-182
(player in sidebar, take a listen)


Reader Comments (26)

my college comes first. I use the blogging and writing a s a reward for completing homework. But my kids come before my reward.
I go to school full time, I'm a single mom. I have a boyfriend, I write, homework takes most of my time, but I always find time for everything. The only thing I tend to back out is giving people rides everywhere. It takes up too much of my time, so I usually say no to that LOL

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSummer Ross

I love your song of the day. Funny, I was just writing a post about this for wednesday. Anyway, I've had a hard time with this but I'm trying to tackle keeping my life balanced (sane.) It's not easy and I know it will always be a struggle. I've cut back on my blogging-- to which I still get the shakes-- but I'm writing more and spending more time with the family. It is so hard to say no and I'm trying hard to do it.
I devised a loose schedule which is helping too.
THanks for the post. It's good to know I'm not the only one.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Danek

OH good topic-we'll see how I fare too. Good Luck! *sprinkles dust*

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristina Lee

cutting down to 3 days a week has really helped me keep the balance. I'm sure you'll find it will help you as well

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFalen (Sarah)

I'm not sure what Slow Blogging is (will check the blog post) but I blog as needed... probably not often enough. I don't blog about techniques and such and I don't write about writing all that much. I update my monthly goals and write when something fabulous comes about. I don't really feel a lot of pressure to blog more often than that.

As far as saying no... I say that far more often than I should. I find myself getting stuck in a rut and now I have no new ideas. I should say yes more often.


August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCurvy Jones

As much as I'll miss your daily post, I think it's a super smart decision. It will free up your brain a little too, because instead of being filled with blog brainstorming ideas, those empty T/TH blog post files in your brain can be used to house ideas about revising and strengthening your ms for submission.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Bell

Funny, I cut to three times a week right about the time I signed with my agent, too. It's much more manageable, somehow.

All the best with your new schedule!

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline Starr Rose

We definitely have to find balance. I only blog 3 days and it's great. Plus I think you have a good excuse. Congrats again.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPatti

Great post. Lots of valuable advice here. I'm a big proponent of balance in writing, but it goes for life too! I know from experience that it can be way too easy to take on too much at a time.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterK.M. Weiland

I've noticed a cycle amongst writers who get agents...they suddenly do get a different urgency and their blogs change a little bit, not for better or worse...just different. Thanks for this post! It got me to put up my post about a similar thing.

It's tough to say now. I need to work more on that.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Davidson Argyle

Thanks for the mention, Roni!

I think for you, three days a week WILL be Slow Blogging, compared to what you've been doing. I love your posts, but I'll love them just as much when there are fewer of them.

Now editing (and soon, marketing!) your book definitely has to be your #1 priority. We're all so excited for you.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnne R. Allen

Oh, how this hits home with me. I've been feel a bit stretched lately and I'm taking the time to re-evalute my time. Family, God, and writing are the most important components of my life.

I want to keep blogging as a means to stay connected, build relationships, and hone my skills.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTamika:

Okay. You have an agent, so your writing comes before blogging, critiques AND cleaning. You don't have to stop blogging, just cut back like you say. I know it's easier said than done, but you can do it.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEllie

I only blog three days a week also. There's only so much time and that balancing act is a work in progress. Good luck.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathi Oram Peterson

Funny....I have a post rather like this one scheduled tomorrow!

It is definitely healthy. And we both have Anne Allen to blame. :)

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSierra Godfrey

I totally understand this! Balancing writing with anything is HARD! :) Especially because I (and I'm sure you do too) love it! I was glad to read your post and see that I'm not the only one who struggles with this. :)

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermadameduck

I'm with you, Roni. There just aren't enough hours in the day. I'm juggling the needs of an elderly parent rather than kids at home but mix that in with the full time job, the writing, the blogging, the house, and my poor neglected just doesn't work.

The first thing that goes for me is the house - I keep it one small step ahead of the Health Dept. - and unfortunately, neglected husband comes next. But after that, it's my writing time that suffers. I'll miss your daily blogs but cutting back makes sense. Good luck staying on top of those writing deadlines.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Leszczuk

laundry gets cut first, then meals. I have the advantage in that I stay home with my kids but finding time to write between snack, lunch and errand time is a struggle. Enjoy your power to say, "Sorry, I can't help you out right now, I'm working against a deadline." It's kind of a happy thing.

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJolene

I’m better at saying no. As a once a week blogger, I can easily understand wanting to cut back, and you have an excellent excuse.

When everything comes to a peak for me, I generally walk around in circles not knowing where to start so everything suffers. It’s a problem I need to work on!)

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane Kennedy Sutton

Sounds like I'm definitely not alone in this respect. Thanks so much for all the comments, you guys!

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRoni @ FictionGroupie

I began blogging M-F, but I cut it back to 3 days a week for the summer. As of now I'm keeping this schedule because it's working out so well and I've maintaining a much better balance. I hope it works out for you!

August 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Marcella

I now get your posts via email cuz I kept missing them. This morning I received this one and skimmed through it. At first I thought you said you were quitting blogging. Whew, I miss read it!

I cut back to blogging MF during the summer. I'll post MWF starting next week, but I'll check the blogs M-F. However, I'm cutting back the amount of time I spend on the blogs each day.

August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStina Lindenblatt

THere are definite "no" moments for me - especially now that I have books on contract. I so get how that changes things.

August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Fonseca

Yeah, I'm going to have to put down my critiquing pen once I have a plot and outline for the next book. I can't keep up with everything either and the critiquing is already piling up.

August 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria Dixon

Everything comes second best when I'm on a writing roll with a novel, but I still manage to answer emails. Blogging about - how I got here, suffers unless I've picked up a day casual teaching, and in some classes - like now, I can go online while the kids are 'working' or not working in this case.

I'm lucky, hubby's supporting me at the moment, but I sure hope my agent finds a publisher for my novel before his temp job runs out.

If you're interested, you can read ch 1 of my YA fantasy novel, 'Lethal Inheritance’ at
I’d love to know what you think of it.

August 31, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpublishersearch

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