During those weeks when you're juggling a lot of commitments, especially for writing parents whose kids are out of school, writing-life balance is freaking hard to achieve.
I got some perspective from a very unexpected source recently. I got my epiphany at work.
One of my day job hats is adult education with a group of accountants. You wouldn't think an accounting firm would be a hotbed of sexy thought-provoking concepts... But in the seven years I've been working with them, I've learned more about writing and work-life balance than I ever expected to know.
This quote came up in a prep session for Not-For-Profit Corporations:
Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends, and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back.
But the other four balls – family, health, friends, and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same.
You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.
~ Brian Dyson (b. 1935) CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises
I've had Dyson's quote on my mind ever since.
I can't tell you what a freeing concept "work as a rubber ball" was for me, after the many times I've gone far past my limits when it comes to work. So many of us have the notion that the "work" ball defines us more than the other four. It doesn't! I know it doesn't. But like the rest of you, I am still a work in progress.
James Patterson was also inspired and used this quote in his bestselling book, Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas. And if that isn't enough magnificence about "the balls," check out this video (watching this guy juggle mesmerized me and made me tired).
Incidentally, here's the quote that headlined the Not-For-Profit workshop I mentioned above -- it mirrors our philosophy here at WITS:
You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you. ~ John Wooden
Here are a few more gems on writing life balance, from other writers who know way more than I do:
- Tips for Being a Healthy Writer – Kristen Lamb
- Writing is part of who I am, but it is not all of me. ~ Carol Pratt Bradley
- Parenting Tips for Writers from Janet Fitch (White Oleander)
Now go forth, y'all, and enjoy all the parts of your life to the fullest this summer. You've got this.
What are your thoughts on the "five balls?" Do you have a quote that you live by? How are you at achieving a good work-life balance? We'd love to hear about it down in the comments!
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About Jenny Hansen
By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.