The Precarious Balance of Writing and Life

Making the time to write. Making the time for loved ones.

One Saturday morning not so long ago, my nephew plopped himself down next to me on the sofa. I had been having a perfectly quiet, solitary morning writing on my laptop.  Until he came around. Why is he up? He usually sleeps in till noon. This is my cherished quiet time. Grrrr.

It was not often that my 18-year-old nephew—who we raised since he was 11—wanted to sit and chat. I forced myself to stop and listen. To engage. But it quickly became evident that he didn’t want to talk; he was just bored and wanted to push my buttons and annoy me—something he used to do with great pleasure. I’m not kidding. He really got a kick out of it.

Exasperated, I finally said, “Nephew, go away! This is my time. I’m writing. Anything before noon is my time. After noon is your time. You can talk to me then.”

“Fine. You don’t love me anymore. I’ll go away,” he said, laughing.

I rolled my eyes, and felt only the tiniest bit guilty. Boundary established.

Within moments I was back in the zone, into the world of my story.

This little exchange came to haunt me later. The next evening, I was on my laptop in the den, writing or blogging away while my husband and nephew were watching TV. After trying to get my attention several times, my nephew finally protested. “Aunt, it’s not morning. This is our time. You’ve had your time already.”

I just looked at him. He was right. I closed my laptop and forced myself to be present with my family, even if it was just to watch a TV show together. It was good to relax.

My husband picked up on the phrase and has since used it on many occasions. “Hey, what are you doing? This is my time!”

So goes the balance of life… fitting writing in amongst work and marriage and parenthood. In Vinita Hampton Wright’s book, The Soul Tells a Story, she wrote about her purposes in life: to write, to help others write, and to have a good marriage. Keep it simple.


My nephew has since joined the Army—we just celebrated his graduation from Army Basic Combat Training this month. I wrote nary a word during the two weeks my husband and I were on the road to see a bit of the country and to attend our nephew’s graduation. We got to spend five days with him before he was off to his first post.

We’ve been back home for a week and I need to get back into the routine of writing each morning before work, as well as weekend mornings during “my time.” And I must remind myself of my priorities: being happily married, flourishing at my job, and answering the call to write. And don’t forget staying healthy! I’m planning on starting a serious diet next week. That’ll be fun. You can’t write if you’re dead!

Just keeping first things first.

How about you? How do you juggle writing with the rest of your life?  What have you chosen to put aside for now? Friends? Extended family?

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1 Comment

  1. First – congratulations to your nephew! 🙂

    Like you I establish some pretty firm boundaries. During the day I work, so naturally I can’t write while teaching a classroom of students! However, when I get home I don’t bring work with me, because that is my time to write. I write every day for varying lengths of time, but at the very least an hour a day is mine to work on some sort of writing whether it be my novel, a short story, or blogging.

    I’m lucky that I have a husband that is very understanding of my writing habit. He gives me the freedom to wander off into my stories and he’s always there waiting when I’m done. 🙂

    That said, it’s still important to find balance. There is enough time in the day for everything you love if you decide to make time. I’ve always believed that!


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