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How to Juggle Writing and Other Essential Commitments

“I’m not superwoman. The reality of life is that I’m juggling a lot of balls in the air. And sometimes some of the balls get dropped.” ~ Cherie Blair

Writing is my passion. But I must admit it’s not easy. I have to juggle between being a freelance writer, a teacher, a mom and an active church member. I’m committed to attending several church services, choir practices and workers’ meetings each week.

Then there’s my home life which includes cooking, cleaning, DIY, shopping, looking after my daughter and two cats. Plus making time for my other daughters and somehow trying to fit in a social life – which I admit is almost non-existent!

Sometimes I’m so tired that I could easily nod off at work. Last week as I sat with  a student during a 1-1 session, I felt my eyelids getting heavier and heavier. My body became limp and my head started to droop. It was so embarrassing! I excused myself, got up quickly and drank some water to shake the tiredness off.

That little scenario made me realize that I’m not superwoman. I know what Cherie Blair meant when she said sometimes some of the balls get dropped when you’re juggling. One of the biggest balls that I’ve had to drop is giving up some of my sleep time.

To be able to juggle I’ve had to make big changes to my lifestyle.

Commitment and motivation

Writing takes commitment. To be committed you must be focused. Most importantly it takes self-motivation to complete writing assignments.

It can be easy to get complacent sometimes. Especially when you’re sitting in your cozy home and you just want to rest.

At the end of the day you don’t have your boss breathing over your shoulders at home. Nor do you have them to report to if you’re behind with writing a report. Or in my case as a teacher, not turning up for my students.

When you’re in employment, those are tasks that you must complete. There’s no other way. You either do your work or you get fired.

So how do you bring that workplace mentality into your freelance writing career? You have to treat it like a job. If you’re serious about progressing as a writer, your mindset must be focused on achieving. That’s because whether you write part time or full time, your aim is to earn a living from it. Bills have to be be paid.

Prioritizing

You need to decide what’s important in your life. That means juggling between different activities. You have commitments. So what comes first? How do you manage all of them?

I’m not a morning person. So I stay up late at night writing. Sometimes I stay up till 1.00am and wake up at 6.00am to get ready for work. So I only get 5 hours sleep!

When I get home from work, I cook, do some more writing or research. Most evenings I have to attend church. Afterwards, I’ll continue with writing or researching or both.

On my days off and on weekends I visit my daughters, do my main housework such as spring cleaning, gardening and go grocery shopping. I also write in the afternoons or evenings. If I don’t write, I feel restless.

Making sacrifices

“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.” ~ Shauna Niequist

If I didn’t make sacrifices, I wouldn’t do a lot of writing. I used to love cuddling up on the sofa to watch a good film or follow my favourite soaps. I had to knock that on the head, though.

I don’t watch much TV anymore. In fact I haven’t watched TV in months. That’s not part of my list of priorities, unless there’s something important on that I must see. Giving up TV was a struggle in the beginning. But not watching it has now become part of my lifestyle.

The highlight of my week used to be getting together with my girlfriends. We would take turns to meet at each other’s house, drink wine, listen to music and have a good laugh. But it took away too much time from my writing, so I sacrificed our get-togethers. I still see them – but only once in a while.

Another thing I sacrificed is chatting for hours on the phone. Those conversations didn’t produce anything positive. Now I make calls and talk when it’s necessary, not just to gossip or chat about men.

Because of the sacrifices I made, I was able to put together my blogs and earn some money from doing what I love, which is writing.

“Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to.” ~ Mitch Albom

Meeting deadlines when you’re ill

This is a tricky one. I’ve been working on a research project for WritersinCharge. It was quite time consuming and I spent a lot of hours roaming through Google looking for information. That exercise taught me about prioritizing my commitments.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I developed mouth ulcers and had flu symptoms. I had to take time off work because my tongue was so painful, I couldn’t speak properly.

I was stressed! All I kept thinking was that I needed to carry on with the research as I had a deadline to meet. My mind was willing but my body said no!

I negotiated for some extra time to meet the deadline. I didn’t lie. I said exactly why I needed that extension. It’s important to update your client on where you’re at in the stages of your project. That’s where professionalism comes in. It’s always best to be upfront and honest with whomever you’re working for.

Lessons learned

Despite all of the challenges that I face sometimes, I’m happy that I chose to write. But to be honest, there were times when I felt like packing it all in. You might think I’m contradicting myself. But haven’t you ever felt pressurized and frustrated by something in your life and wanted to quit – even though that thing may be your passion? That’s human nature.

One of my favorite quotes is this, “Winners don’t quit. And quitters don’t win.

If I quit what good would that do me? My childhood dreams of being a writer would be shattered. I can’t even imagine the disappointment that my daughters would feel. The hundreds of hours I’ve sat in front of the computer would have counted for nothing. I’m not a quitter!

I’ve learned that nothing good in life comes cheaply. If you want something you have to work for it, make sacrifices and give it your best shot.

I will carry on juggling between being a writer, mom, active church member and teacher. That is, until I’m in a position to become a full time freelance writer and author and live the lifestyle that I crave.

Have you made any sacrifices as you pursued your writing career? I would love to hear your stories about any challenges you’ve faced as a writer.

June Whittle is a blogger and freelance writer. She has two personal blogs that she manages and writes for. Please stop by my main blog to find out some more about me.

Category: writing

8 Comments on "How to Juggle Writing and Other Essential Commitments"

  1. Lapoposky says:

    Splendid article, juggling various activities is not an easy task. But as you said prioritizing our task saves us time and makes us more money.

    Many times we are found wanting in the time department. We allow trivial issues take up our time-time we could allocate to better things.

    This article is timely as it lightly punches our face, reminding us of the importance of doing that which is most necessary.

    Thanks June, for sharing this enriching article.

    • June Whittle says:

      You’re welcome! It’s good to be real and voice what us writers go through. When you tell people that you’re a writer, they have no idea how much time and effort goes into it. They imagine that you just sit there in front of the computer and the words flow out automatically. If only they knew!

      Writing is very time consuming. And we have to make lots of sacrifices to follow our dreams.

      But I would never give it up! It’s one of the best pleasures in life for me.

      Thanks for your comments 🙂

  2. June Whittle I must say that you are a very hard working lady..I understand that looking after kids and at the same time working as a teacher is already a difficult task and you are also managing blogging with it..You must have definitely made a daily schedule to handle everything and other women around you may definitely think to do blogging now seeing the success you are getting…..

    • June Whittle says:

      Thanks for your comments. Yes I’m hard working but I enjoy every minute of it. When you’re doing something that you’re passionate about,it’s worth it.

      I’m looking forward to the day when I can give up work and write full time for a living. I hope this article encourages more women to chase after their dreams. Hard word won’t break you,it will make you instead! 🙂

  3. Great post, June — I have a lot of balls myself, with 3 kids. And I’ve made some of the same calls you have — TV time has really shrunk, and I find 6.5 hrs of sleep will usually do me.

    I often pull an 8-midnight work shift after younger kids go to bed, to lessen the impact of my work hours on them.

    What I love is being able to stop at 3 and plant flower bulbs with my daughter if I want, and then work later. The flexibility of freelancing makes it easier to have work/life balance than if you must warm a chair in an office 9-5.

    The Kabbalists say we never kill time…time kills us. When we’re doing timewaster activities like playing social games or watching TV, we’re not doing anything to make this world a better place. And we have limited time to do it in. What I discovered over the past few years is I’d far rather spend more time reaching more people with my writing and having an impact than catching every episode of Gray’s Anatomy or some such.

  4. Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon says:

    I’m not a morning person either so my sleep schedule looks a lot like yours 😉 However, getting a full-night’s sleep every night is also one of the sacrifices we are willing to make to succeed. It just comes down to how bad you want it.

    Thomas

    • June Whittle says:

      Yes Thomas,it’s not easy sacrificing sleep. 🙂 But like you said, if you want it bad enough, something has to give.

      At the end of the day it depends on your priorities. If your priority is to become a successful freelance writer, then you’ll pull out all the stops to get to your destination.

      Enjoy your weekend!

  5. June Whittle says:

    Thank you Carol. It’s good to hear that I’m not the only one juggling other commitments and writing. And I agree with everything you said.

    There’s so much more satisfaction from reaching out to others through your writing than sitting in front of a TV screen. Although, some people may disagree!

    I had no idea about the impact that writing would have on my life until I started to take it seriously. But it’s a wonderful impact. 🙂

    Unfortunately, I haven’t reached the stage yet where I’m able to give up the office/college chair in the 9 – 5 environment. But it’s coming. That’s what I’m working towards!

    Have a great weekend. 🙂

Onibalusi

Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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