Author Problems: Breaks, Fun Stuff, and the Writer Work-Life Balance
This might come as a surprise to you, but most authors don’t only have a writing career. They have full time or part time side jobs that they may or may not love. In my case, the side job involves promoting other amazing books through EyesOnBooks and travel writing. I write on my own blogs at Pet Travel Tales and Travel Tweaks and I also do some freelance writing for other travel blogs or companies.
I love everything I do, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a lot. Like shit tons of work to keep everything going. And the writing part eats up a whole chunk of that. Why? Because after writing, there’s editing, dealing with covers, formatting, and promoting. I have built up this blog and my social media profiles for a while now, but they require constant work. So my work hours pile up and I end up with seven day work weeks and not a lot of free time.
Writer Work-Life Balance – Why You Need to Focus on it
No matter how much you love what you do, if you don’t want a burnout, you’d better take breaks. You have to take care of yourself, and that sometimes involves not doing anything, pampering yourself in any way you can.
The truth is life happens to all of us. Things go wrong, life gets hectic, we miss people or just have bad days. That comes on top of all the work we’re supposed to do. If you want to go through it all without going completely bonkers and burning out, you have to be kind to yourself.
When you feel like you will die without a break and decide to work through it, that might seem like a great idea. Add up enough similar decision, and it won’t look pretty. I talked a lot about the issue I had in the second half of 2016 when writing just wasn’t happening. The truth is I’d had a very stressful year. Two releases in the first half of the year (not counting anthology short stories), Euro Pride Con in Berlin, and a ton of work-related stress. The end result? About six months with almost no writing at all.
How Do You Take Breaks?
Taking a break seems easy, unless you immediately start feeling bad for taking it. When stuff piles up and you have errands to run afterwards, plus you have friends and family you need to hang out with… let’s just say taking the time for a break is just too much to ask.
If, like me, you only feel slightly less guilty about breaks when your internet is down or you’re sick… stop it! The right thing to do when you feel you need a break, or you realize you are supposed to have one, is to just take it.
Maybe schedule it or maybe listen to your body and take a break whenever you feel you can’t do anything anymore. There is a reason everyone has free days and vacations and time to themselves. Generally, it boosts your productivity.
How to Make Breaks More Compelling?
If your ideal break is just lounging at home with a book, you can pass that as part-work anyway. Writers should read, a lot, and in all genres. Start there if nothing works.
Make breaks your goal. As I knew this year would be brutal, I added some break-related stuff in my daily or weekly schedule. I added a daily goal to have a better care routine. Because face cream and masks and complicated coconut oil hair masks are good for me, and also relaxing. I added a weekly goal to read books I want to read, not just books I am supposed to review. Another goal I added was to meditate every day.
Pamper yourself. Goals and useful stuff are great, but the purpose of breaks is to ensure a healthy work-life balance and to help you take care of yourself. Pampering plays a huge role in it. So paint your nails or style your hair once a week. Or indulge in one of your hobbies. Or go get a new hair color, or make an appointment for a massage or spa treatment. Take a work-free trip, even if it’s only for a day. Or, schedule some time with your partner, friends, or family. Even if it’s only for an hour or two every day. Try to spend that time with them, talking or watching a movie or walking. No work though!
How Well Am I Doing with My Writer Work-Life Balance?
I am better than before, but I still suck at it. I take occasional breaks, but the most I do on a regular basis is spend a couple of hours with my boyfriend at the end of the day and have my two mandatory doggy walks. I still work every day, and while I did style my hair more, I haven’t painted my nails once this year. If you’re following me on my personal Facebook or on Instagram, you know I used to do that once a week.
The meditating part is… going. Let’s just stop at that because I don’t want to add ‘well’ to it. It would make it a blatant lie. I do find a quiet moment every single day to just focus on my breathing and clear my mind, but I am yet to reach a consistent 5 minute per day routine.
I am striving to do better. And the key is to stop feeling guilty for taking breaks. The work will still be there, waiting for me, whether I am enjoying my break or not. So I’d better enjoy it.
How good are you at taking breaks and would you say you’ve reached an optimal writer work-life balance? What tricks do you use and what do you still need to work on? If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments!