File Jun 02, 8 37 28 AM

For anybody who’s working and alive, work-life balance is something that will require some thought. Since we’re mostly writers here, writing is the work I’m imagining on one side of the fulcrum. On the other side, everything else: family, friends, day job (if it’s not writing), exercise and health, tasks and chores, etc. If the balance tips too far one direction, we’re writing, but not living well. Too far the other and we’re not writing. And just when you think you’ve found that perfect balance, circumstances will shift, and you’ll have to adjust again.

I’ve spent the past weeks feeling terribly out of balance, for a host of minor reasons and two major reasons: a serious case of pneumonia, and moving out of the house we’ve lived in for the last ten years. (I always think I remember how emotionally and mentally and physically hard moving is, but I never do.)

I’ve been itching to write, but it hasn’t been happening. And when I don’t itch to write, I feel guilty, or like there’s something wrong. Writers gotta write, right?

Then a few days ago, a friend sent me a link to a post on Writer Unboxed that changed my perspective: Fallow Fields: An Argument for Letting Your Creativity Rest. The premise is that we actually hurt ourselves and our work if we try to harvest from the same field season after season. That periods of not writing are essential to produce our best work, and our best lives.

But not writing can be a scary thing. What happens when we a chunk of life drops on the scale? Have we sent our work flying off, never to return?


Of course not. Our lives are the soil from which our work grows, and the more richly we live them, the richer the work will be. Those periods when fields lie fallow are not wasted. While I’ve not been writing, I’ve been listening to audiobooks as I pack (and now unpack) boxes. I’ve been writing a little in my journal. And most importantly, I’ve been truly immersed in the (fairly intense) physical and emotional experiences of this period in my life. All these things will make for better writing when I open up my manuscript next week.

Writers gotta write, friends. Except when they gotta just live. That’s okay too. 🙂


profile picElaine Vickers is the author of LIKE MAGIC (HarperCollins, October 2016) and loves writing middle grade and chapter books when she’s not teaching college chemistry or hanging out with her fabulous family. She’s a member of SCBWI and represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of EMLA. You can find her at on the web,@ElaineBVickers on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, or generally anywhere there are books and/or food for her consumption.


Filed under Guilt, Time Management, Uncategorized, Writing and Life

6 responses to “Imbalance

  1. Yikes! Your inability to write is perfectly understandable, Elaine, with all you have going on in your life. I hope you have/will soon recover from pneumonia and get settled in your new home. When you are well and have time to write, I am sure you will! 🙂


  2. mariagianferrari

    I hope you’re feeling better, Elaine! Good luck with your move–it’s so exhausting and time consuming, but you’re right–these are the times when the seeds are planted, and waiting to sprout when you write again. Until then, hang in there!


  3. Elly Swartz

    Moving, sickness, family, joys, all part of the juggle. But I love what you said about embracing life and all the richness it holds. Only then are we truly living. Writing will come. Sometimes it just needs time. And lots of living. Great reminder!


  4. HUGS! I certainly have gone through those ups and downs. And I agree – creativity needs rest. I think it was Jane Yolen in TAKE JOY who said you need to refill the creative well, or something like that. Thank you for sharing this!


  5. Elaine, I think all writers have been there. Flogging yourself for not writing doesn’t help. Audiobooks are great, aren’t they? Have you listened to the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley? I think you would like those books A LOT.


  6. Goodness, you’ve had your hands full of life! Good for you for recognizing the need for writerly down time while you recover and recoup. What a great reminder for all of us. Wishing you health and normalcy, Elaine!


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