Monday, April 1, 2013

I SPY: The Write Balance

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Short and sweet, hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.

TODAY'S POST: I-Spy something beginning with ... 


The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that a balanced life is the key to happiness. This is true for writers as much as anybody else.

The needed amounts will vary among individuals, but when I analyze the balance (or lack thereof) in my life, I basically look at four realms that impact each other and often overlap.

  • Physical

    • Regular Exercise Routine – 30 minutes a day seems to be the recommendation, including a combination of strength-building and aerobic activities. 
    • Diet – While I grew up with the “food pyramid,” my kids are learning about the “healthy plate.” A combination of the two seems to explain what is considered a balanced diet. Drinking water is always a great idea.  Eating plenty of plants is also recommended, and they say half your plate should be plant-related sources.
    • Sleep – While 7-8 hours a night seems to be the immediate answer to “how much sleep do I need,” the National Sleep Foundation says there are many individual and environmental factors that can affect this. For more information, follow this link.

  • Psychological/Emotional/Cognitive

    • Express yourself – i.e., don’t bury emotions. When emotions threaten to overwhelm, writers can naturally channel them into their writing, but when that isn’t so easy, we are a creative lot. Consider other creative outlets such as scrapbooking, journaling, painting, or dancing.
    • Challenge your brain – I may be biased, but it is my belief that writers use more of their brain, and more parts of their brain, more regularly, than anyone else. We have the ability to imagine and create at the same time we are analyzing grammar and sentence structure. We are amazing creatures.
    • Coping with rejection – Nobody enjoys being told they aren’t wanted, needed, or desired. The business of writing necessitates hearing these words on occasion. Finding a way to manage the stress of being told “no thanks” is the key to perseverance.
    • Comparing yourself to others – Writing is often a solitary profession, where sometimes it feels the only way to measure progress or gauge success is to look at the sales, readership, or awards of others. But writing is also an individual journey. Each author’s path to success is different, and we would do well to remember that when the temptation to compare arises.

  • Social

    • Family – While some people find safe harbor at home, others find family members might not be so supportive. As with any career, it’s sometimes difficult to balance the needs of spouses, children, pets, and extended family, but those same people can also bring a joy and satisfaction not found elsewhere.
    • Conferences, Writing Groups, and Critique Partners – Feeding the writer’s soul via gathering with other writers can be rejuvenating. As mentioned above, in such a solitary career, it’s important to find like-minded individuals with whom to share.
    • Get out and about (a.k.a., leave the writing cave) – Inspiration is often found from the real world, which is why you need to get out and do things. Step away from the computer and experience the world.
    • Get to know other people – This is another way of filling the creative well. Whether meeting new people, getting together with friends, or just interacting briefly with the barista at the local coffee shop, seeing other people reminds us what (or who!) we’re writing about. Inspiration for character abides in the real world.

  • Spiritual

    • Feeding your soul - Whatever suits your belief system - communing with nature (gardening, walking, etc.), meditating, prayer, church attendance – DO IT. It’s so easy to put these needs aside to squeeze in time for things that are more temporal, but your spiritual health is just as important as the other realms.

Disclaimer: There is rarely a time in our lives where all of these “boxes” are equal or proportionate. More likely, there is always going to be something out of whack. The key is to be in tune with your needs – physical, psychological, social, and spiritual – and adjust as needed.

How’s your balance? What things do you do to maintain happiness, and what things do you think you can change to work toward your own happy-ever-after?


Anne Marie has always been fascinated by people—inside and out—which led to degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Counseling. As a games hostess at Sea World, tutor, waitress, personal and family counselor, and high school counselor, she indulged her curiosity through sanctioned professions. Now, as a stay-at-home mom of three children, her passion for understanding the human race is satisfied by her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and writer. She writes to reclaim her sanity. 

Connect with Anne Marie at her website, Facebook page, or on Twitter.



Clare London said...

Oh this is all so true - and a refreshing reminder of how to keep things in perspective :) I'm one of the worst at keeping the right balance, but you rightly point out that I should revisit that every now and then.

Toni Anderson said...

Yay! I am justified going to RWA :) Great advice, Anne Marie :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Good post, Anne Marie, and an important reminder to partake in all that life has to offer.

J Wachowski said...

I think I'll print this list and pin it to my bulletin board for a daily visual aid!

Cathy Perkins said...

You must've been reading my mind! After last month's session in the writing cave, I do need a much saner balance!

Elise Warner said...

Great advice, Anne Marie. I like the Meditterrean diet. A study just came out that agrees with me (thumbs in lapels.) Exercise and friends and family and leaving yorself open to life.

Jean Harrington said...

Love what you said about writers' brains, Anne Marie. Thanks for that, especially, I needed the reinforcement.

Anne Marie Becker said...

@Clare - I've started putting five things at the top of my weekly calendar (each week): Read, Write, Home, Health, and Other. I set a goal for each that week, and it reminds me to keep a balance of the most active areas of my life. Having it on my planner makes me revisit it weekly. ;)

@Toni - LOL - you're welcome. ;)

@Marcelle - yes, partake!! Sometimes my head's stuck in my laptop so much I forget to look up and take a breath, enjoy some sunshine, etc.

@JW - thanks! :)

Anne Marie Becker said...

@Cathy - I've seen so many writers with INTENSE multiple deadlines. It scares me. And since my career is probably headed in the same direction, I'm trying to find that balance now, while I can, and make sure I smell the roses once in a while.

@Elise - I've heard about that diet - must be catching on. And "leaving yourself open to life" is beautiful advice! (And so, so important for a writer.)

@Jean - I'm so tired by the end of the day, I must be using at least 80% of my brain, right? ;)

Shelley Munro said...

Excellent post. I believe balance is so important to a healthy lifestyle. Stress isn't good for anyone, and I try to live a healthy lifestyle. It's a work in progress :)

Anne Marie Becker said...

@Shelley - Yes, definitely a constant balancing act! I picture myself as a juggler keeping all those boxes in the air. ;)