Authors hear a lot of questions from their friends. The one question I receive most is “How do you do it all?” I’ve always worked outside the home and didn’t stop after I got published. I like having something to fall back on but it’s also important for me to get out in the world and experience different situations. I’ve gotten a lot of story inspiration from my various jobs. Even if my royalties increased to a startling degree, I don’t think I would stop working.
That doesn’t mean I don’t get tired. After all, I’m juggling two careers. I’m sure there are those of us out there who are juggling more. Add to that my family and friends and general commitments and it can feel like a lot some days, especially because writing takes time. I don’t like doing it in fits and starts, but sometimes that’s all I can do.
How do I manage my two jobs? First of all, and most important of all in my mind, is I don’t beat myself up when I can’t do everything. There will be days or weeks when my library job has to be the priority. Yes, I can get stressed if I have to go a couple of days without writing, but I try not to dwell on it. Life happens. Regular pay cheques are important. Without them, I couldn’t write. And I love my job. That helps. I couldn’t do this if I had a job I hated.
Secondly, even if I can only write in fits and starts, I do it. Take this morning, for example. I had half an hour before I had to head to work so I wrote this blog post. You grab it when you can.
I will admit I’ve made sacrifices to accommodate my writing time but they have been sacrifices I’m willing to make. I don’t go out for coffee with friends during the day. I never did sign up for those yoga classes I wanted to try. I don’t shop for hours. I’m targeted with my errands and make the most of my time.
The only thing I don’t sacrifice is family time. I don’t tend to write at night when my husband and kids are home and I rarely write on weekends. However, because I have a part-time job, I can do this. Nevertheless, family time is crucial. I can write that page tomorrow but I can’t rearrange my kid’s music recital.
Lately I’ve been accepting a lot of hours at my library job. Because it’s summer, a lot of people are on vacation and I’ve been jumping into the fray for a lot of shifts. I’m starting to feel that little tingle of unease between my shoulders because I want to finish my latest manuscript. But then I remind myself it’s all okay. It’ll all get done. The book will be there tomorrow. When I have a deadline, I limit extra shifts, but right now I can do them. It gets me out and into the sun, something a lot of writers could use on a more regular basis.
So how do I do it? Minute by minute, day by day. I make time. I respect my time. And I just do it. If it’s important to me, it just has to get done.