By Alissa Johnson
Do you schedule time for writing and then give it away? Perhaps someone asks you to coffee, your volunteer gig asks for more, or maybe you say yes to watching the grandkids one more day a week.
If so, here's what I know: Those commitments are important to you and you want to say yes. But you get frustrated because writing takes a back seat. It's not an obligation, and no one is waiting for you to do it.
I also know that you can do both. My writing partner discovered this when someone asked to schedule a meeting during her writing time. She actually said no.
If you've been in her shoes, then you know how difficult this can be. But Julia did something important—she set her boundary and stuck to it. She suggested an alternative time, and in the end, she wrote and attended the meeting.
Now I know what kind of reaction this can get. You can't say no to family. Volunteering is more important than writing. But keep in mind that I'm not suggesting you turn everyone down. I'm simply saying it's helpful to know when to say no.
The truth is that boundaries are key to writing. If you consistently give your time away, writing will continue to be the thing you think about but rarely do.
Boundaries are so important that we've been talking about them in the Inspired Writers Studio, my monthly membership group for writers. I believe that setting boundaries is one of five factors that can make or break your ability to get to the page.
Here are two of the tips I shared when it comes to setting those boundaries:
- Start small and practice. You don't have to say no to every opportunity and write from 9 to 5. But perhaps you schedule one hour every Friday just for writing—and then practice not scheduling over it.
- Understand why you write. Writing is about more than the finished product (i.e. that article or that book). It's about what you gain from the act of creation and how it enhances your life. When you understand how it's connected to your wellbeing, you won't feel guilty for sometimes saying no.
As you get comfortable with setting boundaries, you'll find the right balance between writing and the rest of your life. Chances are it will be more of an ebb and flow—sometimes writing a lot, sometimes less, but always writing.
What do you think? Do you find it difficult to set boundaries? Let me know in the comments below or join the conversation on the Facebook page.
P.S. Wish writing could be easier? Learn how it can be with my FREE three-part series, Inside the Writer's Mind. You can learn how to end the struggle and work with yourself today.