Thursday, August 2, 2012


One of the most frequent interview questions for authors is, "How do you balance writing with work/family?"

Balance is the key, isn't it? If you work outside the home, then the time spent in travel and work is pretty much set. Deduct that from the total number of hours per day--twenty-four. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we're all working on making the day longer, but it doesn't work that way.

Then deduct eight hours for sleep. What? You say you don't sleep eight hours? Zzzzzzt! You lose the balancing act. Lack of enough sleep shortens your life span and is an underlying cause for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stress, and in women also contributes to thyroid issues. I'm a poster child for this one contributing factor for poor health. In my forties I bet I didn't sleep more than four hours a night--for years--and it's caught up with me.

All right. For the hours left over after work and sleep, consider the following factors. Do you have a spouse/significant other? Do you have children at home? Are you caring for an elder? For each of the above, how many minutes do you spend in focused individual interaction (no, supervising homework while you're cooking doesn't count. Neither does talking while you're watching television, playing computer games, or texting your mother.)

Did you just estimate that? Zzzzzt! That's approximately as accurate as estimating the number of calories in a hot fudge sundae. Keep a written log. For a couple days.

Finally, how many minutes do you spend on the computer (other than actual writing), phone, television, or any other electronic device? Write it down. Oh, yeah...all those gurus urging you to spend hours on social media to promote your books? They're talking through their hats. The number one way to sell books is to expand your backlist.

Some other things to many books do you read per week?

How many minutes per day do you spend on some form of exercise/walking/swimming/etc.? Walking to the refrigerator does not count.

Now answer this question honestly. When was the last time you took time to pray/think/meditate with no distractions?

Add up all your minutes. Analyze how you spend your time. Make a conscious decision about how you might want--or need--to change. You can't successfully balance life until you know exactly what you're juggling. What are your true priorities?

Take time to observe, think and plan rather than rush into changes. Balance? It's something different for every individual and family. What's yours?


  1. Balance is important, and very individual. I know I have to exercise everyday or my entire world feels chaotic.

  2. I don't believe the things you're perceived to lack in life effect balance. Who you are as a person - your stamina, humour and get up and go gets you where you're supposed to be. The rest is pop pyschology and greeting card bollocks designed to suck people into feeling bad about what they do.

  3. Thanks for dropping by ladies! Yep. Life is very different for each individual...self-awareness is important.