June, on balance

I decided that after an unexpected two-month hiatus from blogging (yes, life!), it’d be worth spending some time meditating on what it means to find balance. How do we, as writers, find time to write when juggling full-time jobs, parenting and family obligations, volunteer work in our communities, and a plethora of other demands on our time that may invade our lives and prevent us from setting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard?

In her book, The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, Julia Cameron talks about “The Time Lie”. She writes that “One of the biggest myths around writing is that in order to do it we must have great swathes of uninterrupted time”. Like Cameron, most of us probably don’t have those great tracts of time available to us. We have to write while trying to make the best of what she calls “a patchwork quilt” of time that is available to us.

For me, part of that patchwork requires discipline, and a belief in the power of writing first thing in the morning. Those of us who prefer this kind of approach may already be part of the #5amwritersclub, which allows us to commiserate on our steely determination (or craziness) as we haul ourselves out of bed to write.

I think a related part of that patchwork is commitment. According to Louise DeSalvo in her book, The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity, writers should have “no excuses”. DeSalvo points to two memoirs she keeps on her shelf: one written by an author in prison (with barely any paper on which to write at all), and the other written secretly by a marine during WWII (even though this was not permitted). DeSalvo uses these memoirs as examples of people writing in extremely difficult circumstances, who were so committed to what they were witnessing and experiencing, that they forced themselves to write, no matter what. As a result, DeSalvo allows herself no excuse when it comes to the work of committing to her own writing, and she urges her readers to do the same.

But what happens when all the discipline you’ve built for yourself goes out the window? What happens when life intervenes so much that somehow both your discipline and your commitment are disrupted?

You start again.

And that is exactly where I find myself now at the start of June. Starting again. So here I am , re-committing to my discipline, to my writing practice, and to blogging. And while life has thrown me a few curve balls the past couple of months, I nevertheless managed to edit a poetry anthology, and am pleased to announce the publication of Written Tenfold (published by the Poetry Friendly Press), which I compiled and edited on behalf of the Brooklin Poetry Society.

So, as I continue to meditate on the art of finding time to write through the beautiful month of June, I don’t pretend to have a slick and easy answer, or a downloadable guide on how to adequately squeeze in all of our commitments and still find time to write. And maybe that’s ok. Maybe there is no one perfect answer for everyone. Maybe we each have to carve out our own paths in order to find balance. How will you carve out yours?