by Sheila Webster Boneham
Balance. I’ve long been a great believer in balance in life. Not necessarily moderation, mind you, but balance. Hard work balanced against hard play, or hard rest. Think very long nap on a rainy afternoon after writing from seven until noon, with a couple of hours bicycling or hiking in the early evening. Balance.
|Indian Paintbrush looks to me like|
©2011 Sheila Boneham, Evans Canyon, Reno, NV
For creative people – writers, painters, musicians, actors, crafters, and more – balance can be hard to achieve. The siren that is creative work is seductive. It can sing its way into our brains and make us attend to its needs until our joints lock. That same siren, though, can be painfully shy, hiding itself at the first hint of distraction. Something good on tv? You can write that poem later! Friends want you to come play parcheesi? The painting can wait. The socks in your sock drawer are rebelling? Clearly more important to organize them than to write that novel.
I jest. Sort of. The truth is that there’s ALWAYS something else to do. Some distractions even look from the outside very much like actual work. You’re a writer, you’re on the computer – checking what’s happened on Facebook in the last ten minutes, and reading the latest writers’ group digest post, and checking the five hundred blogs you frequent because HOLY COW! You might miss something that will make or break your career!
|There's always some seductive path |
calling, "Follow me!"
©2011 Sheila Boneham, Wrightsville Beach, NC
I confess. I do all those things. Sometimes. But in the past fifteen years I’ve also written twenty three and a half books, sixteen tons of articles (more or less), a pile of short stories, a small clutch of poems (very recently!), and the various related documents – query letters, proposals, blurbs, bios, bull..., er, marketing materials. So, rumors to the contrary aside, I do maintain some degree of balance.
How? A surprising (to me, anyway) number of people ask me that. It’s no mystery, really. Like many busy people, I compartmentalize my time, and have done so for so many years that my "time habits" are part of me. I write in a local café every morning, beginning around 7:00, ending around noon, with a half hour or so off for breakfast with my husband. I go home, have lunch, have tea. I read for a couple of hours. Take a short nap most afternoons. Go for a long walk, sometimes with my dog Lily, sometimes with my camera, sometimes just with my thoughts. I often write more in the evening, or meet my writers’ group, or friends, or go to an event or movie, or paint and listen to music, or watch a movie at home. And, yes, reading social media and posting on my Facebook author page, or updating my website or my own blog. And ok, maybe an hour of Frasier reruns. Hey, we all have our vices. I read some more late at night, when everything is quiet. I sleep. And the writing gets done, because I know I have those four or five hours of dedicated writing time, and I use them to....write!
|I find that other creative pursuits, |
like painting, help feel my work as
a writer. Creativity begets creativity.
©2011 Sheila Boneham, "Sydney," watercolor
What do you need to create balance in your life and work?