Monday 10 January 2022

Work/Life Balance - The Creative Process


Something you'll hear talked about a lot is finding that balance between working and having a life outside of the job you do. I think it's especially important for those of us who are indie, because so much of the work relies on us to do it ourselves, but it can apply to traditional authors as well. There's so much of an emphasis put on always being on the go, and always being productive that too often we get lost in it all.

I have been an indie author for over sixteen years now, and while I've had times when I've had the writing be put on the back burner for things like getting my degree or periods of ill health, striking that balance between work and life has taken me a lot of time to get right. The important thing to remember is that it can take a long time, you can finally find what works for you, and then everything changes and you have to start from scratch again.

Life is an ever-changing beast and sometimes it'll throw curveballs your way and you'll have no choice but to keep trying to catch them, keep trying to switch things around and find that new balance. Like, for example, when I started to really get organised and to write as much as I do every month, I would find a new balance and things would be ticking along fine, and then I'd get sick, and while I'd recover, it would take a while for me to be able to manage that same amount of work in a week or a month, if I ever did get back to that level.

One of the things that I've kept telling myself is that you gotta be prepared for the ups and downs of life, and of work. There are always going to be things popping up that change your priorities or have an ongoing effect on your time. That doesn't mean that you then take time away from the other side. The point isn't to keep working no matter what, it's to keep that balance going the way it should.

For example, in December 2020 I was in the midst of the professional edits for Lights Off, and then I got the call I'd been waiting for, that my tumour surgery had been scheduled. I wasn't sure exactly how much work I would manage since it would mean one hand being out of commission for a while, so I had to adjust, and part of that adjustment was putting the release back to June from May, so that I'd be able to take some time off to recover. It wasn't a loss to me, the tumour in question while benign had been plaguing me for years with pain and I needed to have to out to make sure that I would retain use of that hand.

Over the following months, as I got full use of my hand back, I was able to get through the edits and such and the release went off, but while doing that, I realised I needed a break from editing and releasing for a while and ended up pushing off the second release of the year until 2022. It's all about weighing up your choices, your stress levels, and all the rest and finding some way to make it all work for you.

Personally, making that decision to not publish a second book in 2021 was one of the better ones I made over the year. It allowed me to take a moment, to breathe, to take stock of what I wanted and how I wanted to do it, and to refocus my energy on what lay ahead. I feel like because of those kinds of decisions, I've managed to strike a pretty good work/life balance for a good few years now.

This isn't just about making time for self-care, though that should definitely be the case, but about making sure that whatever load you're carrying in your work life, that you have things to offset it when it comes to your personal life. I do my writing and admin work first thing in the morning, and from there, I'm able to have more time later in the day to take a load off and be able to take care of myself.

It is a very delicate balancing act because everyone's lives are different and while I would usually give tips on how to work this out, I don't think they apply here. You need to be the one weighing up what matters to you, whether that's on a daily, weekly, monthly and so on basis, or whether you do a lot of trial and error to see what works for you. The last thing you want to do is overload yourself in one area and struggle to keep things working in the other.

It may take time to get it right, but that's not a bad thing, it's better to take your time and really dig into what works for you, then to apply a fix that won't work in the long run. Only you can know yourself best and only you can decide what works for you. Good luck in getting there, you'll thank yourself for it!

Any questions? Lemme know in the comments!

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