21-Day Writing Challenge: Day 9 – Finding Balance

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As predicted, I did NOT hit my 6k target for today, making today the first day I didn’t reach the goal for words. But that’s OK – I had a 2400 word cushion already built up, which allowed me to take this afternoon and evening and spend a bunch of time seeing friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and spending some extra quality time with Liz.

I still managed 3639 words today, which is excellent. It puts my overall count at 39,037 words to date, or exactly 37 words over my target for where I had to be at this point.

I actually think I’m even more ahead of schedule than that, because I’m pretty sure this story will finish somewhere around 60k words, instead of the 70k I’d originally planned. Which is fine – that will just give me an extra day or two for cleanup and editing. No problem with that!

It’s impossible to stress enough how important it can be to find balance in writing and the rest of your life. I’ve been so hyper-focused on finishing this book that I’ve let some things slide which I ought not to. Things like getting the laundry done in a timely manner. You know, day to day tasks which just have to happen whether you’re writing or not. And getting out of the house and into the world is vital to us as well.

It’s all well and good to start a crazy challenge. Even great if you finish it. I’ve done 26,000 words in a single day before to wrap up a NaNoWriMo where I’d been especially lazy about word count earlier in the month. But it’s useless if you can’t maintain a good pace for the long run. Chris and I may talk about the value of sprints, but writing as a career is much more like a marathon. It’s an endurance event, and it’s about finding ways to make the work happen day after day, week after week, with the weeks flowing into months and years.

More than that, it’s about finding ways to keep the joy in what you’re doing. Because if we grow to hate writing, or see it as just a job, then we might as well be digging ditches instead of telling stories for our rent.

Balance in all things. Even in challenges. Do the work, yes. Find ways to improve your performance, surely. But also remember that it’s supposed to be fun. Storytelling is play. Don’t ever let the joy leak out of it. Do things to help yourself recharge, to rebuild your creative energy. Connect with other real human beings, because its from other people that we learn and grow and absorb new ideas. We connect those dots to create our art. We find the dots to connect by being out in the world and doing things.

As always, you can sign up for email updates on my progress – click the link below to join and follow along. Would love to hear comments, either here or in emails, too!

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4 Replies to “21-Day Writing Challenge: Day 9 – Finding Balance”

  1. +1 to all of this. Finding and holding onto the joy in writing is what keeps me coming back day after day. If writing isn’t fun, find something else that is. Life’s too short to flog yourself on something you’re not enjoying.
    Great stuff, Kevin.

    1. I often advise people, when they ask how to find something to do with their lives that fills every day with passion, to “do what makes your heart sing”. And never let anyone talk you out of it, once you find it. If what you choose is challenging, rise to the challenge. If what you choose requires new skills, learn them.
      Life is short. Make it count. 😉

  2. “Finding the joy.” That sums it up for me. I’m not a successful author (not yet!) but I love writing. If I lost that feeling, I wouldn’t want to do it any more.Great post, Kevin.

    1. Yup. I have a sense that retaining the joy can be a challenge for writers as they achieve success. Because when the mortgage and food on the table relies on writing more good books, it adds a level of real world stress that is absent in the early days.
      Making sure writing never becomes a grind is important to me.

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