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.