Monday, August 11, 2014

Deadlines and Friendlines: Finding the Balance | Guest Post by Jennifer Slattery

Welcome Jennifer Slattery to the blog today! I asked her to share a little bit about writing on a deadline and how she manages that with friend time and life. I'm positive you'll love her insights and I can't wait to hear what YOU think in the comments below.

P.S. Don't forget - one more day left to comment on Cherie Burbach's {Writer Wednesday} interview to enter the drawing for a free print from her Etsy shop! To enter, leave a comment on her post.
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You want to feel empowered and insanely organized? Stop by the calendar section at your local office supply store and simply flip through the pages. There are 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week, and 52 weeks in a year. Which means, I have 8,760 hours a year in which to write. Considering I type around 76 words a minute, I have the capacity of pounding out 39,945,600 words a year.

Except I have to sleep. And eat. And shower on occasion. And…

Spend umpteen hours with my besties sipping flavored coffees and trying on clearance jewelry. Which inevitably sends us to the shore store to find matching sandals, which sends us to the department store to find an outfit to go with it. Which wears us out completely and sends us back to the coffee shop for a mid-spree pick-up.
Flickr by chichacha

That, my friends, is where the problem lies—not with the jewelry but the “can dos” that threaten to steal the must-dos. Because writings a funny thing. You set a goal, to say, write a novel in a year, and you really intend to do just that. But well, a year’s a long time. Surely it won’t hurt to spend one afternoon out with friends.

Nope. Won’t hurt at all, so long as you maintain a balance.

I admit, I struggle with this, partially, I believe, because I and everyone else know I have no set schedule. Plus, I’ve got some really awesome friends, and numerous coffee shops nearby. Plus, there are times I plain don’t feel like writing, especially when I’m working on that same scene I’ve edited, oh, I don’t know, five hundred times.

This is exactly why I need to create and stick with a schedule! A workable schedule that allows for productivity without leaving me severely socially deprived. In other words, I need to draft a schedule that takes real life into consideration.

Though I’m not much of a numbers person, percentages always help keep me balanced.

If I consider writing a career, I must treat it like one. For some, that may mean devoting 40 hours a week to the craft. For those with full-time jobs, perhaps they’ve only ten hours a week to spare. Others may only have five. (And if you have less than five free hours in a given week, something’s got to give.)

BUT, I also need friend-time. Truly, we do. The Bible is very clear on this point. God created us as social beings to live in vibrant community. In fact, we grow most, as individuals, into our calling, and in the knowledge of truth, in community.

I also need family-time.

And God time. Oh, boy, do we need God time.

Plus, we need to serve, and no, writing doesn’t exclude you, because God placed you in a local body for a reason. And it wasn’t to be a pew warmer. Or dust collector.

I believe most of us can work it out so that we can have a little of all three, if we’re pro-active and intentional.

So how do you do it? 

1. Meet with God each and every morning, offer your schedule and concerns to Him, trusting Him to work everything out. Because here’s the thing—
If it’s of Him, He’ll make it happen. In His timing and His way. 
2. Determine your most creative time of a given day and set that aside as if it were a job. Leave the house, lock yourself in the attic, and turn off your phone, if you have to. This should be your “disturb-at-your-own-peril” time. Guard it and guard it well, and if possible, keep it consistent. Make sure you communicate this with your family and friends.

3. Schedule meaningful family time, and release your expectations of perfection. If your schedule’s tight, you might not be able to cook a three-course meal every night. But that’s okay. Your family truly won’t starve.

4. Intentionally schedule in your girl (or guy) time, recognizing though it might not be as often as you’d like, it will happen. And it will be awesome.

Writing isn’t for the weak of will or easily swayed, but if you want to complete that novel bad enough, you *will* do what it takes to reach the end. The good news is, it gets easier with practice.

What about you? What are some things you do to balance friend-times with deadlines? Do you feel your friends and family are supportive of your writing time?

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Jennifer Slattery writes missional romance novels for New Hope Publishers. Her debut, Beyond I Do, releases in August and is available at a discounted price for preorder now! Click here to read more about it and order your copy!