Finding the Balance

imagesThis week, I’m supposed to be sharing with you fine readers how I find balance between writing and real life. But here’s the truth: I don’t. Or I haven’t. I haven’t is a little more hopeful, like maybe one day I’ll figure it out. But with twins coming any day now, upping my brood from two to four, I don’t think that day will be anytime soon.

Here’s what I have learned about balance: there’s not one key, one secret that will make everything click into place (at least not for me). But what does work for me is taking it one day at a time. I don’t give myself word counts that I have to hit, because inevitably something will come up (a sick child, a snow day, a sick me, a quick-turnaround freelance assignment) and I’ll throw my hands up in despair. Why can’t I do it all? What can’t I find the balance? 

But if I take it one day at a time and write when I have time to write, and mother when I need to mother, and also get a load of laundry done and maybe get dinner on the table and do it all without lamenting about all that I’m not doing, then that is what I call a successful day. And for now, that’s enough.

How do you balance your writing life and your real life?

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Colleen Oakley is the author of BEFORE I GO (Simon & Schuster/Gallery, Jan. 2015), a love story. A former editor for Marie Claire and Women's Health & Fitness, she's now an Atlanta-based freelance writer. Find out more at

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This article has 2 Comments

  1. I don’t really worry about the “balance.” Whoever said writers were supposed to be well balanced? 🙂

    For me, at least, the key is flexibility. If you depend on having a certain time of day, or a certain place, or all your outlines and note available to follow — well, that will be fine as long as things remain stable. But mostly things do change (family, job, etc.), and there goes your routine.

    I work at being flexible, writing wherever and whenever I can, often on my phone. The past few years have involved a lot of new (and often unpredictable) family demands, but I’ve still been able to get in my writing time.

  2. I appreciate your honesty here, Colleen. I suffer the same “Why can’t I do it all” moments of grief as well (and I don’t have 2-going-on-4 children in the house). Such great advice to take it one day at a time, and understand that some days WILL be more productive writing-wise than others. Just knowing that helps lessen how much we beat ourselves up, I think. We have to give ourselves a little wiggle room.

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