When I was younger, I taught myself how to do little things because I wanted to have a hidden talent. I think it had to do with me being a video game nerd and superhero lover; somehow random talents felt like leveling up. So I taught myself weird things.
How to double snap. How to cross eight fingers at once. How to make a clover with my tongue. How to arch one eyebrow. How to play the recorder with my nose. How to juggle.
When you are younger and something seems vitally important, it is easy to set aside time to learn a new “skill.” When you get older, you juggle more and more and have less time for random skills. The thing is, I never learned how to juggle more than three things at once, and even then… I can only juggle for a brief period of time.
The problem with juggling is time. In time, you wear yourself out. In time, something has to drop. Some of you might know that I suffer from anxiety. It’s gotten better, since I wrote Girl Nevermore–a book about a girl who becomes obsessed with figuring out why her sister tried to kill herself (loosely based on real life events, though the characters and circumstances are changed dramatically). Even though I’ve “overcome” the event that made my anxiety worse, I can still fall victim to panic attacks.
These attacks typically occur when I try to juggle too much.
Recently, I got a second job. Both of the jobs I have are good, my coworkers are awesome, and I enjoy being at work. Problem is, two jobs creates about 40+ hours of work a week, which means significantly less time to write. When I am home, I want to sleep, eat, or be a sack of potatoes–not work more.
Four items are on the table. Two jobs, leisure/rest time, and writing time. Since I need both jobs to pay the bills, one of the other things has to fall to the wayside. Slowly, I’m becoming more discouraged at the lack of anything to publish.
This, however, brings about the second problem with juggling: I don’t give myself enough credit. Okay, maybe I only made it four or five rotations before I dropped one of the balls. But I can easily pick it back up again. I can start over, toss one, then another up into the air, and hope that I can catch them all for longer this time. The problem with juggling is you always know when you failed. You see the ball drop, you watch it roll away, and you think, “If only I were better at juggling.”
Which is my problem: I focus on the ball that I dropped, not all the times I successfully caught each one. Even though I have nothing new published this year, I have plenty of books in the works. And I haven’t stopped writing, only slowed down.
If I can persevere with strength instead of panicking… then I could juggle better. If I drop something, I should stay positive, knowing I’ll pick it up again. Writing has always been like that for me. I panic every time I drop it, but I always find my way back to it before long.
How do you handle juggling your work and writing life? Do you have a set schedule? Does your work schedule allow you to do that? I’m especially interested in hearing from anyone who has a fluctuating schedule and has to keep changing their writing routine around in order to make time. That’s the situation I find myself in, and I haven’t figured out a good system yet.
Because, writing and reading friends, we’re all juggling in this crazy book world together. Whether it’s making time for yourself, a fellow writer, a book on your ever-growing to-be-read shelf, we all juggle. At least if we drop a ball, we can always pick up where we left off.