Saturday, August 18, 2012

If You Are a Writer, Do You Set Boundaries?

Setting boundaries is one of the most difficult tasks for me personally and I am betting it can be difficult for others striving to become published writers too. At this time I continue to work 60 hours every two weeks as a critical care nurse while trying to balance and build my writing career. I know other writers who must also supplement what they really want to do with what really pays the bills.

I know that I have to set boundaries with family, friends, and my employer, but I also need to set boundaries for myself so I avoid distractions like television, social media, and other activities that do not move my writing forward.

What about when you finally get a really good paying writing gig but it isn't exactly what you want to write about and there isn't time in your schedule to fit it in and do a good job? That is happening to me right now. It is good that I have clients contacting me but boy sometimes I don't feel ready.

This is what I am learning from this newest writing saga.
  • Think about the time it will take to do the job and be realistic and honest about your ability to finish it.
  • Be willing to miss activities, family time, and tolerate a less than spotless home. If you cannot do these things the assignment might not be right for your present situation.
  • Be honest with the employer and be flexible if they are willing to do the same. If you know in your heart that you cannot do the employer a great service, it may be better to decline with  grace and leave your contact information for a later project.
The pay rate and timing for reimbursement for services is slow in coming, for most of the clients I work with it seems to be 30 to 45 days or longer allowing for revisions and final acceptances. This can be a long time for those who still need money on a more regular basis. It can be a writing goal to put money aside for these long times between paydays but in the mean time many of us keep our day jobs.

Writing is something we must to do as authors.... so to make life less stressful we can learn to set and abide by boundaries, be disciplined in using the time we have to be productive, and to also take time to relax and refresh. If we can manage all of these ideas it may just mean that we are writers.


widdershins said...

Working on it!

Margaret Fieland said...

I had a difficult time setting boundaries with my employer -- I work as a computer software engineer -- as everything was a crisis. I finally put my foot down a couple of months ago.

As to television, the one in my bedroom is on the fritz. I'm in no hurry to fix it, as I am now getting a lot more writing done.

Magdalena Ball said...

This is such a major issue for most writers Terri (not just for paid assignments), and I'm no different. I hate saying no to anything that looks interesting and as a result, often take on far too much. Learning what is enough for me and how to say no to those things that are beyond that point (and perhaps lower value overall) is something I'm definitely working on this year (just said no to a project but so badly and with so many caveats that it might have been misconstrued as a yes!).

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

I find that this issue can trickle into all areas of my life. Thanks for the insight.

Karen Cioffi said...

I agree with Mary Jo, this is a problem that trickles into most areas of life. I struggle with my writing time all the time and primarily due to answering emails, reading informative articles and blogs, attending webinars, and doing my own marketing work. I have so much on my to-do list that it's a bit overwhelming. But, I have to remind myself that if I tackle one thing at a time, it'll all get done.

It becomes a bit more stressful when there are time constraints on what needs to be done. My one fast-held rule is that paying jobs get top priority.

I'm working on coming up with a writing schedule I can stick to, maybe setting one day aside for it or a couple of hours a few days a week. I have to come up with something.

MAGGIE, that's pretty funny that you said no to a project, but aren't sure if it was construed as a yes! I think that's all part of it - knowing your time capabilities and setting limits that are stuck to.

Heidiwriter said...

Oh yes, that is so difficult to do too!!

Shirley Corder said...

Looks like I have good company here. I find it so difficult to say no. I try to estimate how long a task will take me and think, "I can do this" - and then it takes me 10X the time I allowed. Then I'm in crisis mode, and my quality time with my husband is spent in front of TV while he watches, and I balance my laptop on my lap! This is truly something I need to work on. Thank you Terri!

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By Terry Whalin ( @terrywhalin )  Few people talk about this truth of publishing: it is hard. I’ve been doing it for decades and it is still...