During the course of the last month, I feel as though I’ve been on a giant learning rollercoaster that’s emblazoned with the word “Balance”. There have been some good days, so many bad days, and some in between. I’ve tried writing randomly as the mood stuck me all around the clock, just in structured time slots with one specific task at hand, doing different kinds of jobs in different parts of the house and yard, working with people in coffee shops, working without people in coffee shops, writing during writing groups, and so many other things.
Mostly, though, I didn’t get as much writing in as I had hoped for. I didn’t get as much of everything done as I wanted to, for that matter. I tried to do too much. Again.
So two weeks ago, I started keeping track of what threw me for a loop. I tracked my time throughout many days in 15 minute increments. I wrote down both what I was supposed to be doing and what I ended up doing instead. Threw all of that into a spreadsheet. Re-learned how to make a pie chart. Fascinated my kid, who wants to make one of his band director’s life now (sorry Mr. Labordus).
Last weekend I bought a little wish bracelet from a shop in the mall. It serves as a reminder of what I’m trying to do: be balanced in all things. It’s cute and designed to fall off the moment you achieve your wish, which means this baby’s going to be around forever. Hahaha.
From my pie chart, I learned that the amount of time I want to spend on things is, in fact, fairly balanced, and when things go my way, I’m good to go. Things rarely go my way, though, and most interruptions to my flow come in the form of kids needing to be picked up or dropped off outside of their regular hours, my spouse’s job scheduling his meetings over his lunch hour so he has to come home at a different time, and small explosions here and there from organizations or friends unexpectedly needing something.
So I’ve started a new plan, which is basically to schedule everything into those 15 minute blocks I talked about before. Quite a lot of my life can be arranged in 15 minute periods. It takes about 15 minutes to get to each kids school and from one school to the other. The library and building where my other group meets are about 15 minutes away. It takes about 15 minutes to do a round of dishes in the sink or the dishwasher. 15 minutes to vacuum & mop one room. 15 minutes to make an image for social media. 15 minutes to plan which updates need to be done at what times. 15 minutes to set my tasks and alarms for the week, etc.
Writing, however, can’t be tamed into 15 minutes at a go. It needs more like an hour and a half per shorter non-fiction item written. An hour and a half to edit something the same length into something usable and send it off. Same for poems. Short stories can take a solid week of those hour and a half slots just to write. Novels are nigh near endless.
So I’ve chucked my original goal to be done with this novel by the end of the year. I have too many other shorter obligations to finish in the meantime. I will finish out the year working on those items, working on the marketing class my friend Marsha and I are taking, meeting with my new brainstorming partner Debora to help me figure out the itty bitty plot details I’m trapped in, and running last years NaNoWriMo novel back through to write, since I did not manage to do more than one short chapter last year.
Here’s hoping that I achieve some balance soon.