Balancing Act: How to Live Life as a Wife, Mother & Writer

I wear many hats. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, an editor, a writer and a friend. How do I achieve success? Through a careful balance of discipline, prioritizing, self-motivation and mercy.

(Do you need multiple literary agents if you write different genres?)

DISCIPLINE

I have 24 in a day and usually allocate eight for sleeping. In order to take care of myself, my family, and my career I must consciously discipline myself by:

  • Being a boss — As a boss, I set schedules for myself. These include how many pages I will edit or write in a day and what chores I must accomplish that day.
  • Being an employee — As an employee, I follow the guidelines I’ve created for myself. This means if I hit my editing page count for the day, I stop. I move on to do some housekeeping or take my kids to the pool or edit my client’s manuscripts.
  • Saying no —If something doesn’t support my role as a mother, wife or writer, I generally say no. This includes excessive use of social media networking. I limit my time on these to a half hour a day.

GIVEAWAY: Jaimie is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: GSMarlene won.)

 

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 1.37.09 PM Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 1.36.40 PM

Column by Jaimie Engle, who has run a body shop, managed a hip-hop band,
modeled bikinis, and danced at the Aloha Bowl halftime show. This wife and
mother of two currently teaches creative and essay writing to both Homeschool
and college students, and offers a manuscript critique service for aspiring authors.
She has published many short stories online and in print. Her debut middle grade
novel, CLIFTON CHASE AND THE ARROW OF LIGHT (Wayman Publishing,
Sept. 1). See the book trailer.) See www.jaimiengle.com to read some more of
her short tales. Find her on Twitter here. or follow her main
character, Clifton Chase, on Twitter

 

 

PRIORITIZING

My goals are to be a good wife, mother and friend, and a best-selling author. They all hold equal value for me. In order to build up these facets of my life, I must prioritize through:

  • Need — I need to take care of my family, clean the house, and grocery shop. When I have a writing job, I need to meet my deadlines. When I teach, I need to be prepared for class. I cannot spend the day revamping my website if there are no groceries. And I can’t edit all day and forget about dinner.
  • Want — I want to hit my goal of 1,000 words a day. I want to write a new story that has been drumming around in my head. I want to take my kids to the zoo. I want to watch a new movie with my husband. My wants are important. They are the parts of my life that keep me going. If I do not make my wants a priority, I become unbalanced and resentful of all those things I need to do.
  • Balance — Balance keeps my wants and needs in check. It allows me the freedom to write 1,000 words in a day and forego laundry knowing the next day I can focus on chores.

SELF-MOTIVATION

As a novelist without a paycheck or deadlines, it is up to me to create and hit my writing goals. As a web writer working out of the house, it is my responsibility to turn in a high quality project within a deadline. To be self-motivated means:

  • Being able to set attainable goals
  • Getting on task and remaining on task
  • Balancing between the demands of wife, mother, writer and friend
  • The ability to say ‘no’ to anything interfering with my goals
  • Knowing when I need a break and some me time

It is difficult to go through the task of publishing a book if you are not a self-motivated person. It took me two years of persistence and diligence. I could have found a million other things to do besides write, edit and submit my manuscript. Many times the distractions are good things, like reading someone’s blog post, but if I spend too much time focusing on them, they won’t help me achieve my goals.

(Just starting out as a writer? See a collection of great writing advice for beginners.)

MERCY

Even with the best intentions, I fail. It is pertinent that I show myself mercy when it comes to my roles in life. I may not always hit my writing goals. I might not have dinner ready on time. I may need a break to have some coffee with a friend. My husband may want to watch a movie with me. There are times when I need to make a choice that goes against everything else in this post. It is during those times, I need to show myself mercy. Otherwise, what’s the point in doing any of this? If I’m stressed out, failing at everything, or worse, excelling in one area alone, I have missed the mark and forgotten what life is about.

THE FINAL ROAD

I am a good wife, mother and friend, a published novelist, a web content writer and a teacher-tutor. I spend each day striving at excellence in each of these areas. Some days require I spend more time in one area than another. But in the end, I feel whole. I will always face difficulties. The road will always be bumpy. It is when I look back upon my life and ask, “Did I do everything I could have? Did I make every moment count?” that I hope I can answer, “Yes.”

GIVEAWAY: Jaimie is excited to give away a free copy of her novel to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: GSMarlene won.)

 

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Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

 

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34 thoughts on “Balancing Act: How to Live Life as a Wife, Mother & Writer

  1. jaclynpaul

    I just stumbled upon this, and I’m so glad I did! I’m a full-time mom and writer, and I have a habit of comparing myself with two groups of people:

    1. Full-time writers without young children to care for (or who have child care that allows them to spend their days writing)
    2. Full-time moms who have poured all their energy into being a parent and homemaker.

    Obviously, since I’ll admit I also try to sleep for eight hours every night, I never measure up. The balancing act is so tough! Congrats on all your successes — I know they are often hard-won — and thanks for sharing your journey. It’s nice to hear from someone I can relate to 🙂

  2. esparhawk

    I visited your blog and read the story about the kids selling your autographs on campus. Very funny! Kids are a hoot, aren’t they?

    I’m a school teacher. If I win your book, I’m going to donate it to our middle school’s library and promote it among my students.

    I love your blog’s background. 😉

    1. jaimiengle

      Oh how cool!! I love that you want to donate the book. (and if you don’t win, hit me up on my website and let’s see if we can’t still make that happen!!)
      Yes, kids crack me up. I think that’s why I love writing about them. They are WAAAYY more interesting than most of the adults I’ve met.
      Thanks for your comment, and thank you so much for wanting to help get this book into the hands of kids. You rock!!

  3. Tracy

    This was a beautiful article! Thank you for sharing all this advice with us. Balancing my priorities is one of my biggest difficulties. I love what you said: “Saying no —If something doesn’t support my role as a mother, wife or writer, I generally say no. This includes excessive use of social media networking. I limit my time on these to a half hour a day.” “If something doesn’t support my role as a mother, wife, or writer, I generally say no.” That resonates with me so much. when laid out in black and white it seems like such an easy concept.
    Also, in your biographical blurb, I love that you are teaching creative writing to homeschool and college students. I bet that is incredibly rewarding for you.
    Thank you again for sharing this with us.

    – Tracy

    1. jaimiengle

      Tracy, thank you so much for your kind comment. I am so happy this article resonated with you. And yes, it is extremely rewarding to see my students faces light up when I show up and teach them how much fun it is to write! 🙂 I’m hoping I have a future NY Times Bestseller in the bunch…

  4. novels2write

    “It is when I look back upon my life and ask, ‘Did I do everything I could have? Did I make every moment count?’ that I hope I can answer,’Yes.’
    Amen to that.
    I especially liked your inclusion of mercy into your formula for success. It’s so easy for perfectionists to leave mercy out of the mix, beating ourselves up when we haven’t met our goals or lived up to our own expectations. It’s good to keep the big picture in mind, give ourselves a break for simply being human, then keep working at it.
    Thanks for the great article.

  5. GSMarlene

    This is great advice for any writer. I realize I am luckier than most when it comes to having time to write, but still have to patiently explain that family members can’t just sit in my office and chat.

    Love your cover, BTW.

    1. jaimiengle

      Thank you. Yes, as a stay at home mom, I feel very blessed to get to write as I please, too. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t be my worst distraction.
      The cover art was created by Debbie Johnson and you can view more of her art at debbiejohnsonartist.wordpress.com.
      thanks for your comment!

  6. Jeri Baird

    “My goals are to be a good wife, mother and friend, and a best-selling author. They all hold equal value for me.”

    I love this statement. It can be hard to hold all goals equally and certainly each day, one can overshadow another. My goal, also, is to find that each of these finds a balance in my life. Thanks for your wise words.

    1. jaimiengle

      Thank you so much, Jeri! Yes, this means that some days one area of my life supersedes the other (like when I have a sick kid or a writing deadline). I’m thrilled you enjoyed this article and hope you are able to apply some of my suggestions to your life. Happy Writing!

  7. evelyne@holingue.com

    Inspiring post! I especially like the realistic piece about occasional failure. Now days, especially for women, the pressure to be successful no matter what is big. So it is good to remind us to keep everything in perspective. Also our lives are in constant motion. What is not possible when a child is two years old is very different only three years later when the same child starts school and gives us more time to write. Thanks for many good pieces of advice and inspiration.
    Cheers to your life and your writing goals!

  8. SilenceWelder

    Great article. I learned something new, despite having read a book on this balancing act and living it for several years. (I’m a father and husband, writer and friend, by the way).

    I’ve often heard the phrase be your own boss, but I’ve never thought of being my own employee before. I can give orders to myself, but I need to take them too and get things done.

    Also, I liked what you said about stopping when you reach your goal for the day. Sometimes I find it so challenging to make time to work that it’s difficult to stop until I MUST, but I’ll think some more about that in order to achieve better balance.

    Thanks again, good luck and congratulations!

    S

    1. jaimiengle

      I’m so happy to hear that some of my points resonated with you! When I sold Mary Kay many years ago, my leader told me that at night, she would put on her ‘boss hat’ and write out her to-do list for the next day. Then, the next day, she was to complete the list as an employee, as if her job depended on it. I thought that was a great way to handle being self-employed and it has kept me motivated in any business undertaking since! Best of luck in your endeavors, and thanks so much for the comment!!

  9. rdaviso78

    Sometimes I feel like I have to guard my writing time like an angry dog guards its food. I have to be “selfish” and say “no, this is mine”. That includes my family sometimes.
    Rule of thumb has become:
    Question 1: Is there a writing implement in my hand?
    Question 2: Am I typing?
    If the answer is “Yes” to either of these questions, you need to wait until I’m at a break.

    (Sometimes I just hold a pen for a couple minutes even if I’m not really writing.)

  10. mfdavis

    It’s very clear from your article that you are so much more than a wife, mother and writer. Your discipline in keeping your balance and prioritizing, even in the written article itself, came across to me. Thanks for the enlightenment and encouragement.

    1. jaimiengle

      My pleasure, mfdavis! I’ve been given great advice from other writers along the way, and I’m happy to be able to pass some of the things that work for me along to others. Best of luck in your writing career, and thanks for the comment!

  11. CharyseA

    This is a great post! I’m a wife, a mother and an aspiring author. I have so much to do every day, that I understand the need for balance. It can be difficult sometimes, when you really get into your writing and you have to set it aside. But, it is very important to be able to do that, so that you can continue being a great wife and mom. It’s great to hear from someone who is actually doing it!

    Really, thank you for this post!

    1. jaimiengle

      You’re very welcome CharyseA! I’m so excited to hear that you are working so hard to include writing into your schedule. It’s fulfilling to be a wife and mother, but you have to fulfill your personal dreams and aspirations as well. It’s not easy, but having my children brag to their friends that I’ve published a book reminds me that it was worth the sacrifice. They do understand the importance I place on writing. Yours will, too! Good luck. If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to ask!

  12. Jay Long

    This is a great article. I have to say, being self employed for more than 13 years, this isn’t limited to just moms and wives 🙂 Your breakdowns are great for anyone who may work from home and finds it hard to stay in a routine. I know I ‘get lost’ from time to time.

    Thanks for insight.

    Jay

    1. jaimiengle

      You’re so welcome, Jay. I’m happy to share the tips. Working from home can be difficult because there are so many distractions. Kuddos to you for doing it successfully for more than 13 years! Maybe you should be writing the articles… 🙂

  13. DanielJayBerg

    Thanks for sharing. I was single and living on my own when I started writing. Now with a wife and four kids, I continue to seek the correct balance between family time and writing time (along with work). I have learned there are times when I can do some of these things together . . . but I’m still learning!

    Best of luck!

  14. Katie

    “It is difficult to go through the task of publishing a book if you are not a self-motivated person.” Or even to get far enough to start thinking about publishing!

    As a writer, mother, and wife myself, I love reading articles like this about finding balance. I’m not there, and every story about being able to achieve a happy balance gives me more and more hope! So thank you! And thanks to WD for posting this.

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