Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Balancing Act

by Julie Coulter Bellon

I gave a presentation at the Ephraim’s Writer’s Conference last Saturday on Finding Time to Write and part of my presentation was having an audience member come up and pretend to walk on a balance beam. I asked them before they started, if they were at the Olympics, in front of the world, and being asked to walk across the beam without falling off, what would be the first thing they would do?

Of course, my volunteer said the first thing she would do, would be to focus. Then she would put one foot in front of the other and slowly move across. She put her arms out, and said that she probably would try not to look down.

I think this is exactly what we have to do as writers, when we’re trying to carve out time for ourselves to write. When we get those precious minutes in front of the computer, we need to focus. We can’t be distracted by Facebook, email, Twitter, or surfing in the name of research. We need to sit there and actually write. Get into your scene or dialogue. Get out your idea book, read the last page you wrote, and then go from there. If you’re like me you have scenes and snippets of dialogue going through your head all the time, and once you get in front of the computer it’s just a matter of getting it all down. But it does require focus.

The second thing is to put one foot in front of the other and slowly move across. Do some writing every day. Plod along. If you write one page a day for a year, you’ll have 365 pages which could be a novel and a half. And, you know, that’s 365 more pages you would have than if you didn’t do any writing at all while you were waiting for that big block of writing time to come. You’re slowly moving across, getting your novel out there, one step at a time.

The next thing she did was to put her arms out. This is important when you’re trying to carve out time for writing. Put your arms out and ask for help. Ask your older children to babysit the kids for half an hour. Have your family cook dinner one evening so you can write. Join a neighborhood coop and trade babysitting. Ask your co-workers to understand if you take your lunch hours at your desk to write instead of socializing. Don’t be afraid to ask for others’ support.

The last thing she did was to not look down (or back) and that is big. Don’t get down on yourself if you miss a day of writing or if you write a scene that has to be deleted later. Writing is a learning process and the more you do it, I believe the better you become. Beating yourself up with regrets isn’t helpful. Just do better today than you did yesterday.

It’s all a balancing act and some days we’re better at it than others. If you fall off, get up and get back on. Slowly make your way, one foot at a time, with your arms out, and with your eyes focused. Don’t look down, look straight ahead, and see the success within your reach.


At 4/15/2011 1:46 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

Thanks so much for writing this post.It is excellent advice. This is what I needed to hear right now. I need to register in my brain that writing something every day is better than writing nothing.

At 4/15/2011 12:56 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

I particularly like your reminder that writing a little each day will help you get so much more accomplished than waiting for big blocks of time to write. Thanks!

At 4/15/2011 2:49 PM, Blogger Becki said...

I really needed this. I have struggled the last two weeks with the worst writers block ever!!! It made me realize my life - and expectations - had become very imbalanced. Your blog gave some concrete ideas for fixing that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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