A prompt from the DIY MFA Book Club: Tell a story about a time when you had to honor your reality. Has there ever been a moment when writing felt completely incompatible with your real life–when it felt like there was just no way you could make the two exist together?
The problem I have with honoring my reality doesn’t come from a feeling of being unable to make my life and my writing coexist. Writing has always been a natural part of my life, completely intertwined. If life gets too busy, I stop writing and take care of it, and then I drift back to my writing naturally.
My problem comes from trying to determine the balance between my life and my writing now that I have a goal of being professionally published. I have a hard time figuring out how much time I “need” to spend writing vs how much time I “need” to spend relaxing.
When you have a boss who is not yourself, the appropriate amount of hours/effort is determined by someone else. You know that you work from 9 to 5, with a break for lunch, or that you have certain tasks that need to be done before you leave. You know (if your boss is any good) what is expected and how much of it.
My own hours/goals are defined by …whatever I think is manageable, or what I think I should be doing. Sometimes it’s reasonable, and sometimes I overestimate what I’m able to do. The variability and the fact that I’m the one that sets my schedule makes it very hard to be able to define the amount of work I do as ‘enough’.
There are certainly days where I convince myself that I’ve done enough when I really just want to read a new book, or play another level in a video game. There are other days that no matter how much I write, my mind tells me: ‘well I could be writing right now’ or ‘did I really get enough writing done today?’.
And at those times I try and remind myself to honor my reality. That I need time to write, and I need time to relax. It doesn’t always work. While I’ve never worried that I won’t have time for writing, finding the happy balance between work and rest is an ongoing struggle.