At almost 1400 km. long, the Fraser River is the longest river in British Columbia. It’s often called “The Muddy Fraser”, a reference to the water’s silty colour. The Fraser’s largest tributary is the Thompson River whose north arm originates at the foot of the Thompson Glacier in the Cariboo Mountains. When it joins the Fraser River in Lytton, BC it retains its distinctly different colour for a short distance, but eventually dissipates and disappears into the murky waters of the Fraser.
Last week I read a post on the Magical Words blog that reminded me of how our writing lives resemble these two rivers. Melding our writing with everything else that goes on in our lives rarely results in a satisfying balance. Something always seems to take precedent.
The danger for writers is that it can become a do or don’t do pursuit. An obsession with writing can end up excluding other equally important things in our lives, OR guilt can push writing into the background, and leave us hoping for an illusive ‘someday’ when there will be more opportunity. Writing full time – having no other claims on our time so we can write when and for however long we wish – is a dream that isn’t as ideal as it might seem. It has its share of pitfalls.
The Magical Words blog post asks how we stay sane while writing in the face of everything else that threatens to swallow our time. How do we find a way to make progress with so many distractions? And if we’re writing full time, how do we partition our time when there is no office clock to punch at the start and end of a work day?
I like the suggestion given – setting goals. Not big ones – those can be self-defeating — but minimum ones, and in combination with an achievable destination. Determining the minimum number of words or pages per week required to finish a project by a specific date means we can portion out a daily workload and step away from the desk when we reach that point. We may choose to do more, but if there are other commitments awaiting our attention we’re not faced with guilt if we decide to close the laptop for the day.
Writing can take over our lives and make us a little crazy. Or we can become resentful of everything else that absorbs our time and keeps us from the writing we’d rather be doing. Which is it for you? Or have you found the balance that allows both streams to coexist in your daily journey?
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