Figuring out my time priorities as a writer and father #MondayBlogs
I’ve written a lot about how hard it is to manage my time as an author, blogger, father, and husband while also having a day job. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make it all work, to give enough time for everything. I even hired someone to examine my life to help me “figure it all out.” It hasn’t gone very well and hasn’t been easy.
Trying to find a balancing act with all that I have going on and am trying to accomplish has put more stress on me and my family life than I really realized. I’ve been moody and withdrawn, possibly depressed and close to giving up on writing more than once. This business is harder than anyone who is not a writer or in it will ever understand.
Since the release of my last book, I’ve been in a funk of sorts. I’ve had issues writing, issues working on writing and the business side of writing. It feels like I’ve been floating in this void that I can’t get out of. Now, I have a few projects that I am working on but am still having trouble focusing on a one more than another. Of course, I know that one, in particular, is more important than the others but it still hasn’t stopped me from working on the other things. Even still I am having a hard time finding my normal groove when it comes to sitting down and actually writing. Usually, it’s something I am able to do with relative ease. These things only add to everything else in my mind. The other day I noticed I sold a couple copies of my second book. Then, I got a new review for my newest book and a wonderful tweet about my first novel which made my day and made me feel like all of this is work is not pointless.
When it comes to scheduling I’ve tried everything I can think to give myself equal time for all the important aspects of my life and to not let any fall behind. But then, I sit back and look and realize things aren’t working out as well as planned or something is not getting enough attention. First and foremost, I am a father and that is my biggest and most important job. My son is nearly three and doesn’t understand when I say, “Daddy’s working buddy.”
A few weeks ago, as I sat in front of my laptop at the kitchen table which doubles as a desk and workspace; I said those words to him. For some reason (READ AS GUILT) it hit me hard as he looked at me with his big blue eyes and holding his blocks. I was a writer and an author far before I was a father. My son doesn’t know that though and it will be years before he understands what that means. My son only wants to have my full attention, to spend time with me, play, learn and be goofy together when he is awake. Needless to say, I closed my laptop but the feelings it gave me hung around for a bit and I didn’t know what to do with them.
I knew something had to change though and I realized I had to stop forcing things. I was forcing my writing, my creativity, forcing my schedule and forcing my will. It was making me stressed out and I was constantly thinking about all the things I needed to do instead of enjoying what I was doing at the time. When I was trying to write I was thinking about marketing, when I was working on marketing I was thinking about networking and when I was working on networking I was thinking about advertising. When I was with my wife I was thinking about writing. When I was writing I was thinking about my wife or son. When I was with my son I was thinking about writing and everything involved. When I was at work at my “day job” my mind was constantly bombarded by EVERYTHING.
It was wrong in so many ways.
It was wrong because I was losing touch with what mattered and couldn’t focus on the things that did matter and should matter the most when I was working on them or spending time with them. The way the world is now we have so much bombarding us faster and faster. So much is coming at us and we have this urgency to take it all on at once. I can’t do that and maybe we shouldn’t do that. Maybe we just need to slow down and enjoy what IS instead of what will be. Or at least I do.
So, what am I going to do?
When I am with my wife; I am with my wife. When I am with my son; I am with my son. When I am writing; I am writing. And when I am at my day job…well, I’ll give my mind room to wonder since the job is pretty laid back. During the days that I am home with my son I am going to focus on him, spending time with him and not burying my face in a laptop, tablet, book or cell phone typing or reading away. For the last few weeks on the days I’m home with him I haven’t even been checking my social media until around 3 pm and don’t get very involved with it either until later. My time on social media, during the day even if it’s writing related will be limited to when he is napping.
As I said before my son is nearly three, he won’t be little forever and I know this tender age is short lived but very important. It’s important to him and it’s important to me. I don’t want him (or hopeful future kids) to be one those sad children whose only memories of their father is when he is working. My dad wasn’t like that and I don’t want to be either. I don’t want my wife to feel like she’s always battling for time with my writing and business and I know she does occasionally. So, on the days when I am not at work; during the day, it is Jax time. During the evening, it is family time. At night after they are asleep it is my time to be creative and work on writing (and all it entails).
I’ve realized that I can’t do all the things I need to do at the same time and give 100% effort with each and each one of them deserves 100% from me and no less. If that means I must be more organized and ruthless with my writing and business during the times I can work on it then so be it. If that means the next book takes longer to write, edit and publish than I guess it does. If that means I must spend part of a week writing and part of the next week working on marketing/social media then go back to writing the following week then that’s way it must be for now.
I love writing even when it’s stressful, slow and nobody is buying my books for thankfully short periods of time. I am just as committed to it as any other writer and author so don’t question that. But I love being a husband more and I love being a father even more than that. Getting older means picking your battles and there is more to life than work and working even when you own your own small business and love what you do. Part of all this self-realization comes with accepting the fact that I might fail or come up short sometimes in this business. But one thing I can’t fail at is being a husband and being a father. My readers and fans may forgive me for taking two years to write and publish a new book (Read as I hope they do). My wife and my son, however, will not forgive my absence from their lives and in the end…neither will I.
In twenty years I don’t want to be that guy looking back and saying, “I wish I would have spent more time with my family.” However, I also don’t want to be that guy who looks back and remembers when he used to be an author.
So, how do you, my fellow authors, writers and businesses owner find the balance between work and family where neither one suffers? Where do you draw the? I’d especially be interested in hearing from those of you who have little ones.