Finding the Joy, Side Hustles, and Keeping it Balanced
Last week I chatted about standing in your truth. This week I’m going to talk about the logistics of that, the benefits, and the challenges just a little bit.
First of all, Joy. When Nancy and I came up with the idea of Joy Your Way to a Bestseller, we’d been talking about finding ways to enjoy the writing process again. I remember hearing Kristan Higgins talk about keeping the joy in writing on one of the loops we belong to, and that word just STUCK. For me, part of rediscovering the joy is that I’m currently writing what I love to write. That helps so much! When you’re working on a story you believe in, with characters you love, it’s not easy but it’s worth it, you know?
There’s another reason why I think I’m enjoying it more. Bear with me. Deciding to take on a part time job, when I already write and edit, means I’m essentially doing three jobs, as well as LIFE. Because as we all know, LIFE is that thing that we try to have and that often gets in the way with unplanned illnesses, houses that need to be cleaned, cars that need to be repaired, and even the wonderful movie night or game of MarioKart. 🙂
Barbara Wallace (who most of you know is my bestie) posted this week about the 5 things she learned while working retail over Christmas. I love them so I’m posting this link so you can read for yourself. I agree with nearly all of them, though I’d swap out Penthouse (because that’s not something we sell at Lindt, clearly!) and would instead add “unreachable” as in – not at someone’s beck and call for those 4-7 hours or whatever my shift is. I’m lucky if I check my phone on my breaks.
A few years ago I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. One of my takeaways was to not put a lot of financial pressure on your creativity, because relying on your creativity to pay the electric bill can really affect your productivity and satisfaction. The business side of me realizes that my books are a product. The creative part of me says think of it as a product once it’s done, but treat it as a gift while you’re writing it. Products aren’t magical. Creating worlds sure is. 🙂
In response, I started editing to help fill the gaps. But it didn’t quite work – bookings weren’t consistent, or I’d have too many, and I’d lose writing time, and I’d be chasing the bills just the same. The great news is now that I’ve been at it for a while, I’m able to budget my time better and I’m in more of a groove. Still, clearly the drop in my writing income and having kids in college means OUCH and so enter the part time job. It’s a great “side hustle” and while it’s awesome to have side hustles that relate to writing (editing, freelance writing, etc.) I’m going to come right out and say I actually think it’s beneficial to me to have something that is NOT writing based. It gets me out of my head 2-3 days a week and makes me go out in public (as an introvert, this is a big deal). I actually love customer service even though I’m introverted (and yes, that’s a thing). I’m not about sales but about connections (same with my books!) and that makes all the difference.
A funny thing has happened since I started working.
I look forward to writing (that JOY thing!). Maybe it’s a scarcity thing. Maybe it’s just that there’s less pressure or I get up and get my butt out of my chair more often. Maybe it’s that not all the financial burden is placed on my creativity. Whatever it is, I try to make the most of the hours I spend at my desk.
That being said, last night I was up until 1 o’clock finishing an edit. By the time I got to sleep it was 1:45 and I was up at 6:15. This is not a good thing.
I’ve made some changes to balance things a bit better (or that’s the plan, anyway).
For one, my husband has stepped up to help around the house a bit more, particularly on days I’m at the store. There’s a real magic to being the last person home and realizing supper is on the go and the floors have been vacuumed. 🙂
I’m pretty committed to taking one day off a week. I generally work on Sundays at the store, so that means Saturday. It’s yoga class day. Read a book day. If I’m excited to write, I’ll write – because I WANT to, not because I have to.
My planner from Barb is a real gem (see pic at right). In it there are spots to record your activity for the day (in 15 min increments) and how much water you’ve had to drink. It has reminded me to fill my glass and to go for a walk each day. It also has a place to list 3 things you’re grateful for. Yesterday’s was walks, surprise pizza, and electric blankets (going to bed at 1:30 and climbing into a soft, toasty bed was heavenly). Take care of your body. Get some fresh air and sunlight. Be thankful. Make creating your daily habit. Doesn’t that sound balanced?
So now I’m heading off to finish my release day work – yes, I have a new release today – and then write some words on my next book. It’s a brand new duet set in gorgeous Banff, Alberta which thrills me to no end. In the meantime, THE CROWN PRINCE’S BRIDE is out pretty much everywhere (in digital). I adore royalty stories and loved writing this for St. Martin’s Swerve.
Have a great week. Stay warm. Read a good book. Smile at a stranger.