“I don’t know how you do it!” said one of the women at the writers group when I shared a list of current projects. She said it with mixed disgust and captivation. She has not been the only writing colleague to react with stress to my multi-project, busy schedule. It’s summer and I have both fiction and nonfiction projects in various stages, plus I do editing for other writers, and I’ve taken on two big projects working with clients to help them bring their books into the world. A recent “dilemma” is having a waiting list for people who want to work with me.
I never know what to say in response. Sorry–that my life as a professional writer doesn’t appear lazily creative? I do work to keep my life balanced (a variety of projects for a variety of age levels and genres plus down-time and socializing and fun things to refill my creative well).
Often my response is to simply scratch my head and say nothing (implying I am as perplexed with their comment as they are with my workload). This is the bottom line: I make my living doing this so I don’t know how to NOT work on multiple projects. Besides, I once worked as a technical writer and later as a publicist for a hospital. Anyone who has worked in a company should get HOW I juggle demands on my time. Add to this scenario that fact that I was supervisory level at several jobs, which meant I was responsible for my work as well as the work of others (and sometimes those “others” needed help meeting their deadlines/workloads), so I can’t wrap my head around how I could NOT juggle one than one project at time.
Do I find it easy? Not always. Do I find it overwhelming? Only rarely (hey, I’m human after all). Do I find it confusing or draining or something I dread? Never. I thrive in having many irons in the fire or balls in the air–as my mother used to describe my attraction to busy-ness.
Like anyone else, though, I have good days and bad. I face days when I wonder WHY I chose this career, but it is a momentary frustration. I have had moments when I feel a bit like Sisyphus rolling the boulder up the hill, watching it roll down, and beginning all over again. I’ve also had moments when I think I’m getting too worn out and tired, that I should go get an office job and let someone be in charge and relax in being told what to do. But those low times are few and very far apart. At the end of the day–and occasionally only the end of the week–I am amazed at how good I feel about what I spend my days doing: writing, editing, learning, sharing. I often feel a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Sometimes the perseverance needed to meet a deadline is the same as that needed to cross the finish line in a marathon. But after the aches subside, it was well worth the effort. Most days, my writing projects do not feel like work. In fact, I feel energized by all that I get done and in seeing the transformation of words into publication.
Daily I feel very blessed to be able to juggle words for a living. You’ll find the same satisfaction and fulfillment if you follow your dream and keep it balanced with the other demands on your time and attention. Best wishes and happy creating!