Monday, July 11, 2011

Juggling: What Is Too Much?



According to the Juggling Information Service Committee on Numbers Juggling, Albert Lucas juggled thirteen rings for thirteen catches. Wow – that’s impressive. Thirteen sounds like a lot to juggle. Maybe too much, considering it’s a very rare feat and would take a lot of practice.

Many of us juggle far too many things than we should. Not always with success. In fact, usually it involves a lot of sacrifice of important things like exercise, eating right, getting enough sleep, and family time. You know, unless you have magical abilities or some other cool gift.

Most of us attempt to juggle as many things as we can in a day. I know I’m guilty of that, and I’m constantly working to scale back. If you’re always feeling harried, rushed, and like you never have enough time, it’s because you don’t. Why? Because you’re trying to fit in too much in your day. Do all of those things have to be done that day? Can one of those items wait another day? Does your house have to be spotless? Or can laundry wait another day? Do you want to be known for keeping a perfect house or for writing great fiction?

An area you may be guilty of is being a workshop junkie or a submission junkie. Hang on now, I’m all about learning. We are students of life, for life. I am not at all suggesting that you shouldn’t take out time everyday to learn more about your craft, or learn a new hobby. At the same time, it needs to fit in your day. It needs to make sense. You won’t learn well while you're juggling everything else too. And while you may have no shortage of fabulous ideas for stories, the world won’t stop if you save it for another time. If you're worried that you'll forget it, kick out a few paragraphs or jot down a brief outline, and then come back to it when you’ve completed the other eight you want to write.

If you want to be in this job for the long haul, why tax yourself early? Think longevity. Thing quality over quantity.

You know my posts are always written because of something I’m doing, dealing with, working through. I’ve gone the quantity over quality route. I’ve gone the never say no - I can do it all route. Am I a prolific writer? Yes I am. I understand this business and my part in it. But I’m not looking to fizzle out early. This isn’t a fifteen minutes of fame process. I aim to be around a long, long time, writing in many different genres. I will always strive to be better. But I have a life and a family, and they’re more important. Sure, the lives of my characters are important to me. I can put them into some very unsettling situations. In the end, the lives of the people I love (including myself) are more precious.

So before you try and throw another task up into the air, consider how many you’ve got going now. Take inventory and figure out what tasks can be set aside for later. Set a limit that works for you. There’s no need to try and do it all. Even if you can, what does it get you? Stress. Less time. Unhealthy habits.

Rather than take on one more activity, why not take that time to exercise? Make a healthy meal? Read a book. Close yourself off from the world. Unplug and walk away. Turn off the phone. Stop checking emails. You know you just sent that story in yesterday, so let it be.

Put all of the balls down for thirty minutes a day, and tune in to yourself. Yes, you can do it all. Yes, you are all that. Yes, your life is valuable, maybe more than that of your characters.

~Ann Cory

15 comments:

An Open Book said...

I am guilty of never saying no, taking on more assignments and offering my services for promoting other authors more than I should- but... I can't help myself- I'm not content unless I have a full plate and deadlines staring me down-
Dawne P

Maria said...

Great post Ann!

Tanith Davenport said...

Speaking as someone on a blog tour at the moment, I can relate to this. I can't stop myself taking on more responsibilities. In my defence, I'm trying to establish myself, but I can see myself collapsing in a heap before the end of the year. :)

SharonJM said...

Thanks for the insightful and truthful post. It made me rethink about all the balls that I am juggling.

Herbert Grosshans said...

When I started publishing my books I wanted to do nothing but write, but I also wanted to do other things. I found it difficult to juggle all the stuff I wanted to do and probably neglected some of the really important tasks that needed to be done. I’ve learned to slow down since. I write when I have time, but I write a little every day. What has changed for me is that I don’t need to write that novel in one day. There is always tomorrow and the next day. I take the time to do chores, even the boring ones; I spend time with my family, have leisurely lunches, work in my garden, watch TV, and I don’t rush back to my writing. I try to limit my time cruising the internet (a terrible timewaster), and I don’t have to take part in every discussion on the groups I belong to. I try not to juggle anything. I enjoy what I’m doing at the moment, giving it all of my attention, and try not to think about what comes next. When it’s done I go on to the next task, be it a hobby or a chore. Like that I don’t feel stressed or anxious. Sure, sometimes my characters scream for more attention, but they just have to be as patient as I am. I’ve never been good at juggling so I don’t even try it anymore.

Ann Cory said...

Hi Dawne :) If you've found a system that works, then that's good :)

Ann Cory said...

Thanks so much Maria! Very much appreciated :)

Ann Cory said...

I hear you Tanith - establishing yourself is important - and I did the same thing. Six years later I view things a little differently, yet I still have to work at finding balance. Thank you so much for stopping by! Good luck with your blog tour :)

Ann Cory said...

Great to hear Sharon and I thank you for taking the time to comment :) I hope you find a balanced direction that works for you!

Ann Cory said...

Wow Herbert! Thanks so much for sharing about what you've learned along the way :) It sounds like you understand the fine art of balance and moderation. Taking time out for things other than writing will keep you happy, relaxed, and a positive role model too!
I appreciate you stopping by :)

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Good points. I learned to say 'no' a long time ago, but sometimes I forget and have to re-learn the word. I think we all tend to take on too much.

Ann Cory said...

Thanks Julia :) Always happy to *see* you! I agree that we all take on more than we should. But I think because of that we're all less healthy and less happy for it.

Shelley Munro said...

Good post, Ann. I think most of us are guilty of trying to do too much, and we feel as if we've failed if we don't multi-task. I try really hard to exercise and do things away from writing. It's good to walk away sometimes.

Ann Cory said...

Fantastic to see you Shelley! I second that it's good as well as valuable and important to walk away! We all need to unplug and tune into ourselves.

*hugs*

Evie Balos said...

The sign that I'm juggling too many things is anxiety. A feeling I often experienced when I first started writing professionally, until I decided to only take on things that I could accomplish. And we all function differently--some authors can handle heavy online networking and writing schedules, others less so, and it's just a matter of recognizing what works for you.

I'd say organizing tasks plays the biggest role in keeping you "sane." I generally limit myself to a few tasks per day, which helps me achieve more. There's always tomorrow...or next week. :-)