The Hustle of Balancing Life, Work and Writing
It’s Sunday morning at 9:00 and I’m already tired. But no matter how tired I feel, this old man is not taking a nap. I’ll be going at it full force until my head hits the pillow. Why? Because I want to…and maybe a lot of ‘because I have to’.
I may have written and published over 25 books, but that doesn’t mean I get to coast. No way. Not until Stephen King and I can trade investment secrets. Writing, or better yet finding time to do it, hasn’t gotten any easier. Like most scribblers, I have a day job. At age 50, I embarked on a totally new career, shucking 20 years of experience and clout to do something I would enjoy. The day job takes up about 11-12 hours of my day, Tuesday through Saturday. It’s mentally and physically demanding. People half my age bail when the going gets rough here. Oh, and I get to work on Saturdays for the first time since I was a stock boy in Gristedes supermarket back in 1990. Yay me for missing out on a lot of fun.
Because I get home later than ever now, I had to adjust when I write. Fortunately for me, my ability to sleep in was broken long ago by my children (who are now adults). So instead of writing a night, which I did for almost two decades, I’ve had to retrain myself to become an early morning writer. It wasn’t easy, but I knew if I didn’t push myself, I would miss every deadline, both professional and personal. And I had to learn to write in bed so as not to clunk around the house and disturb everyone.
On workdays, I wake up, write and answer emails and do a little marketing for two hours. Then it’s time to get ready for work and head off to my one hour commute.
What about weekends? Take today for an example. It’s a gray Sunday, my first day off. What do I do? Wake up at 5:30am. I watched an episode of Mars on National Geographic because I want to write about the series. I then read for thirty minutes, a little for pleasure and a little for work. The sink was full of dishes so I cleaned them and started a load of laundry. I cleaned the bathroom and saw the toaster oven was in need of some TLC, too. We’re (finally!) shooting new episodes of Monster Men today, so I put together a list of things to do for one of the episodes. Now it’s time to write on the old blog and chain, get in at least 1,000 words on my new book, SLASH, and prep the house, aka – the set – for Monster Men. We’ll record for several hours, watch a movie and then I’ll be hosting a live viewing party of THANKSKILLING with my special hellions on Patreon. By the time that’s over, I’ll be in bed, dead to the world until tomorrow before dawn.
Within all of this craziness, I’ll be with my family, the most important people in my life. Those of you who follow this blog know my wife is disabled. When I was writing CREATURE, she was sick with pneumonia. Cut to a year and three months later and she’s still not over it. In fact, we’re waiting for the CDC to deliver special medication formulated just for her, as her compromised immune system just can’t do the work it needs to do. Being with her and my girls is crucial, which is another reason why I write when they’re asleep. When I get home from work, it’s dark out and I’m tired as hell. Better to spend that time recharging the love battery by hanging out with them.
I can attest, spinning these plates does not get easier as you get older. Some days, it sucks. It sucks real hard. But I love my family and I love writing, and heck, I even like my job, so for me, there is no other choice. Whenever I’m about to bitch and whine about doing something I hate or dread doing, I think of this : If I was laid up in a hospital bed right now and unable to ever be healthy or get up again, I’d trade everything for a chance to do that thing I think I don’t want to do. Would I rather go food shopping in a packed supermarket than have terminal cancer? If the answer is shit yeah, it’s time to shut up and tarry on.
Despite all of this, don’t feel like you have to tackle the world each and every day. Carve out time, even if it’s only ten minutes, to recharge. Meditate, read, do air guitar in your car to Metallica, make a dump cake. Find your zen. Watching the laundry spin is a personal favorite. Kinda like watching the flames dance in a fire.
I have big ideas and projects for 2019, as I’m sure you do as well. Now’s the perfect time to plan and figure out how to make them happen, and the best time to do so. It ain’t easy. But neither is Sister Mary Margaret Bernadette. There is one vital thing that nun knows how to do – get into a habit.
What new habits or changes to existing ones do you need to hit your goals? What is the one thing you want to accomplish in the next year? What are you major stumbling blocks? We can kick some ass if we decide to kick it together. Spill the beans right here, tell the world and make yourself accountable. It does wonders.
Fantastic post! Here I am, spilling it: As a newbie writer, I didn’t realize how time-consuming (and brain-consuming) it was. I came to the conclusion last week that I can’t do things I used to and add writing. I need to give up something to make room for writing.
I am the Christmas NUT of the family, always have been. But I am going to start buying gifts (GASP!) instead of Martha Stewarting them. Likewise for the Christmas cards we send out. Actually, my husband will love this as he doesn’t appreciate the annual, December, glitter explosion.
And the planner craze (as a man, you probably never succumbed to that one): I’ll have to simplify.
And stupid books: I’ll finish the good books, let go of the truly bad ones without guilt.
And the Martha Stewart housekeeping: Dirty dishes must be cleaned, but what’s a little dust?
I am on my third horror novel this year. I started writing at the beginning of 2018. The first two stories were awful. Let’s call them practice novels. (Let’s just pretend they don’t exist.) This third one has more promise. I’d like to polish it in 2019, and write 2 more and hit the query trenches. Those are my 2019 writing goals!
You absolutely get it! I think it’s great that you took a look at everything and made some very tough decisions because you’re committed to being a writer. Folks can learn a lot from you. 🙂 Best of luck with novel #3! We all have starter novels. 🙂
Aww dude dont over do it
Live while you’re alive and sleep when you’re dead. LOL Stress is what kills people, and if you love what you do, stress is not a factor. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Wow this is good ! This is the type of sh%*t that makes me get out of my lazy ass and begin writing. My biggest obstacle is the language barrier but no excuses like you said , life won’t and shouldn’t be easy, if we really want to do or be something. Thx for his Hunter , this is a life changing post !
Thanks dude! That means a lot to me. Happy Thanksgiving!
You have demonstrated here that if you want something badly enough, you will somehow make it happen. The drive to write, to create, is so compelling that I too write very early and late, to the edge of exhaustion. I believe that creativity does not usually arise from ‘the comfort zone’. A great post to encourage all those of us who may sometimes feel rather alone in our endeavours.
You are absolutely right. All passions require sacrafice. Being comfortable is what keeps people in front of their TVs, wishing for things they’ll never get up and do.
I need to put that on a poster above my compter and the tv. Thank you for the inspiring words. Just finished Montauk Monster and I am still chewing it over and thinking about it. Cheers
Thank you so much. Writing, or being a working writer, is not easy. But then again, nothing worthwhile is. Good luck with your writing!!
Thanks for the book.Love your books.
Wow, what an inspiring post, Hunter. I thought you were writing full time, especially with the number of books you put out each year–I had no idea.
As for me, I really need to learn the marketing side of things. I was a corporate marketer for over ten years, but I’ve had to accept that, when it comes to marketing books, there’s so much I don’t know. I’ve signed up for a course and have a ton of books to read on the subject. I’m feeling that typical “But I don’t know how to do this” and “What if this doesn’t work?” resistance, but I have to break through it.
I also want to produce a lot more next year. The goal is 12 books, but if I get between six and 12, I’ll be happy. Now that I have an agent, I realize things may happen during the year career-wise that I have no control over (just like this year), but there’s no excuse for not producing more than I do.
Love to you, my friend. Happy holidays.
not saying I am not a dedicated writer, and hey I can write while having the TV shows as background noise so it really is not so bad, but I am just not there where I feel I have to sacrifice stuff I actually like such as my tv shows, exercising, my dog, and writing just so I have enough time to do chores I know I can do another day like laundry if I go enough clea clothes, or cleaning my house.
Hey, you do what works for you! The key is to be happy. I’m happy when I’m writing, so I write a lot. 🙂
I made my first blog post last week, trying to keep up with the hustle. Really impressed by your dedication!
Thank you very much. Dedication…addiction…same thing. LOL