We're delighted to welcome Maisey Yates back to the Pink Heart Society as she talks about the things that can make a work/life balance impossible.
There are a great many posts dedicated to the work/life balance. To the crippling guilt that we women often feel when work takes us away from our families. To the importance of Me Time.
I’ve read them. I’ve drawn comfort from them. Heck, I have written some of these posts.
But this is something I’ve only just started worrying about. When I first started writing my husband and I were living in a single wide trailer with our two children, and another one on the way. We were on food stamps and public health care.
My worries were different then.
And I remember being told — more than once — that I had to watch for burnout. That I needed to treasure time with my children. I remember people marveling that I had left my eight month old baby at home with my husband while I went to my first ever RWA conference.
All of these people were well-meaning, but from my position in life, they were speaking a foreign language. My concerns were not the same concerns.
You see, I was working my butt off. I wasn’t sleeping much. I was writing whenever my husband was home, and sometimes during the day with kids climbing on me. And I had never felt more in control of my future.
Before I was published we were playing that complicated game of dodging phone calls for bill collectors. Putting off the landlord to pay the power bill, putting off the credit card company to buy gas so my husband could go to work.
I was on the verge of an entirely different kind of burnout. And it wasn’t from writing. Burnout brought about by work was a concern far above my economic position in life.
Writing was the thing that was empowering me to change our position. Those very small advances I was getting for my category romances were huge to us. The more books I could write, the more I made. The more power I felt.
And everywhere around me in the writing world, these encouraging, very stock standard phrases felt like an assault on that control. Telling me that my work ethic would eventually cause me to fail.
There is wisdom in the idea of self care. There is wisdom in the idea of achieving balance. Of refilling your creative well.
But sometimes balance isn’t possible. That’s the honest truth. Sometimes you have to push through discomfort and exhaustion to get where you want to go. Is it sustainable? Probably not. But I’m now in a position in life where I can worry about that. Where I can take time off if I need to, and keep more contained hours.
I think it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. I think it’s okay to go through periods where you work a lot. And I don’t think you should have to feel guilty.
The fear of burnout — I think — can become more prohibitive than burnout itself. It’s a real issue — I’m not denying that. But I also think it’s something that can become so large in your mind you believe that the moment you aren’t enjoying your writing, you’re on the verge of a serious issue.
I don’t think that’s the case. I think that writing is a job. And no one likes their job every day. But like most jobs, you can’t afford to skip your shift.
When you start a business, you have to put in extra hours — and writing is no different.
Sometimes, balance is too expensive. I’ve been there. Sometimes to push through to the next level you have to make exhaustion your mistress.
If this is you right now, you aren’t doing it wrong. You are investing in the hope that someday you’ll be able to afford to worry about that balance other people talk about.
How about you? Are you putting off worries about the balance? Or are you driving through because that's what makes you who you are? Join our debate in the comments!
Maisey's latest in her Copper Ridge series, Bad News Cowboy, is out today:
Kate Garrett keeps life simple—working hard, riding her beloved horses, playing cards with her brothers. Lately though, she feels a bit restlessness, especially when family friend Jack Monaghan is around. Sexy and shameless, Jack is the kind of trouble you don’t tangle with unless you want your heart broken. Still, Kate could always use his help in learning how to lasso someone a little less high-risk…
Jack can’t pinpoint the moment the Garrett brothers’ little sister suddenly stopped seeming so…little. Now here he is, giving flirting tips to the one woman who needs zero help turning him on. Love’s a game he’s never wanted to play. But he’ll have to hurry up and learn how, before the best thing that ever entered his life rides right back out again…