924999_f520According to the Free Online Dictionary, balance is “a harmonious or satisfying arrangement or proportion of parts or elements, as in a design.” Ideally, each of us lives a balanced life of family, faith, career, friends—you get the picture. But in reality…

Do you find it hard to achieve balance when working on a manuscript? I do. So to continue Tuesday’s theme of finding mental white space (, I offer these tips to balance your life’s scale while remaining productive.

Keep to a schedule. I am one of those who, when inspiration strikes at 2 a.m. (and drips from the pad on the bedside table), trods to the office to jot notes. An hour later, I’m still jotting. And the next morning, regardless of how many pots of Earl Grey I consume, I’m useless. So I now set aside at least four days a week (depending on my husband’s schedule—a cricital part of this balance idea) to write during business hours. This disciplined approach creates a professional mindset that permeates my writing process; enables me to stay on schedule; and removes guilt from socializing, going to dinner, and sleeping through the dreaded 2:00 a.m. creativity bubbles.

Write at your desk. If you don’t have a desk, set up a table. Dedicate a space to this writing endeavor so your materials are close at hand, and you physically seperate yourself from other tasks. If your spot is in a room like an office, close the door. (I went through grad school with one child in high school, and the other doing undergrad. If the office door was closed, they didn’t disturb me unless the house was about to burn to the ground.) By taking your writing seriously enough to create a literary stronghold, you encourage others to do the same, and to respect your time and space.

Writing is about life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t live too much while tethered to my desk sequestered in my office. (I do have the ocassional epiphany there.) Getting out and living life is exposing myself to potential storylines. Observing people is fodder for characters. Participating in the human condition helps me write believably in ways to inspire, encourage, or motivate.

Remember, Hemingway knew the overwhelming pull of a marlin on his line. F. Scott FitzgeraldLawrence of Arabia had nothing on Mom watched Zelda dance in the fountain in front of the Plaza while sipping bootleg gin. James Joyce…well, never mind about Joyce. I’ve ridden camels across deserts and up wadis, and poked around archaeological digs during machine-gun and heavy-artillery fire. Life in a vacuum doesn’t make for good copy, but living it can.

How do you achieve balance in your life, or what problems prevent you from finding it? I’m interested.

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