Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It’s All About Balance: How to Keep Your Social Life

This weeks guest blogger is Margo L. Dill.

When Tracy addressed her four fears of quitting her day job and writing full time, one of her fears was: Would she still be social? It’s a fear so many of us SAHW (stay-at-home writers) have—we’re afraid we might turn into a recluse. Let’s face it, how easy is it to stay in your pajamas all day and not take a shower for a few more?

But  never fear, you can stay at home, write, and in my case, also take care of a one-year-old daughter, and still have a social life. You just have to be careful. It is so easy to say “yes” to everything you’re asked to do, as you might be starving for human contact. When your mom calls because she wants to run to the mall and you’re not “working” so can you go with her, it’s easy to say, “Sure.” But then, are you going to reach your 2000-word goal for the day as well as finish up the guest post for your upcoming blog tour? Probably not.

So, how do you balance? Balance is the key—you have to have family, social/friend, and work time. It’s crucial. Here’s what I do:

First I look at my week as a whole with a calendar and a pen in hand. I make a note of any appointments or un-fun things (like an oil change or grocery shopping) that I have to do. Next, I look at any social things that are already scheduled—and yes, I consider my writing critique group meeting to be a social event. Although it helps my writing immensely, it is still me, socializing with friends who happen to be writers; and it takes me away from my keyboard and daughter. This category also includes family dinners (not with your immediate family, but maybe Sunday night at your parents’), church, yoga—anything where you are out and about and interacting with other people. If you don’t count these, you will never have time to write.

Once I’ve looked at appointments and any social engagements, I schedule in my writing time. This is especially important for any of you who are also staying home with young ones because your time is limited. My writing time is limited to my daughter’s naps and bedtime, and times when my parents or husband watch her. I have to schedule my writing time, so I know I’ll have time to write at least once a day and a couple large blocks each week.

What time is left now? Well, probably very little, but there will be some left. You have to eat and exercise and possibly do holiday or birthday shopping, so here’s where you invite a friend to go along. Sometimes, I’ll ask my friends with little ones to go mall walking with me or come over for a play date. I schedule a dinner here or there. I send emails to schedule dates—stay off the phone. It’s a time-sucker! 

You can do it. It just takes a little extra effort and balance. The important thing is to remember your goal—to do what you love—write!

Margo L. Dill is a children’s author, online instructor, and freelance writer and editor. She has three books under contract with the first one, a middle-grade historical fiction novel, coming out in 2012. She currently teaches online classes on blogging, social networking, and children’s writing for WOW! Women On Writing. Find out more about Margo and read her blog about using children’s books with kids here.


  1. Thanks for hosting me today, Tracy! :)

  2. Margo I like the idea of scheduling in time for writing because I have a tendency to leave that for last during busy (holiday) times. Thanks!

  3. Lynn,
    I think it's especially hard during the holidays. Can we count our Christmas cards as writing time? :)

  4. Great tips, Margo. If I don't schedule it, it doesn't happen :)

  5. Hi Margo,
    Thanks for the tips. Lots of helpful hints in your post.

  6. Glad you posted this. It is encouraging for me, because I am doing a lot of writing to build up my platform and get my presence out there (what agents want) but I have neglected other types of writing that I need to do, i.e. posting on my blogs. Usually what I do is go social at night, and write the moment I get up and continue all day. That seems to work for me. But again, balance is important and I need to balance among my writing venues. Thanks for the post. Good reminders.

  7. Margo - you are an amazing person and writer! Glad to have you as my friend!

  8. Margo - I never thought about scheduling time for social engagements. Maybe that is why I never seem to have time to write! Great post!

  9. Great topic, Margo.
    Your suggestion to invite a friend along on an outing with your daughter is great. I love to make things I already have to do social, such as exercising with a friend so we stay in touch on a regular basis. The other thing I have done as I've become more serious about my writing is limit my social time to people with whom my relationship is likely to grow and deepen. I know longer have time to maintain acquaintances.