Thursday, June 27, 2019

Work-Life Balance for Writers

Speaking of burnout (last week), coincidentally the current issue of RWR, the magazine of the Romance Writers of America, contains an article by multicultural romance author LaQuette, rebutting the assumption that "work and productivity is the only measure of success." It's titled "Passion, Productivity and Technology: Work-Life Balance." Since RWR articles can't be accessed by the general public, I'll list her points:

"Define your goals."

"Control your work; don't let it control you."

"Be honest" (with yourself about how much work you can realistically accomplish in a given time span).

"Maintain equilibrium in a healthy way" (by organizing your work schedule to leave time and energy for other things).

"Working lunches should not be a thing."

"Limit your access to work and work's access to you." (Self-explanatory in today's frenetic atmosphere of instant connection. Don't feel obligated to keep your phone on all the time or answer every e-mail the moment it arrives. Happily, that's a problem I don't have, because I don't own a smart phone. Just a dumb, basic flip phone, which I turn on only to make—rare—calls out.)

"Make time for the non-writing things you enjoy."

"Find a way to be social" (applies to introverts, too).

"Recognize and admit your issues; know it's okay to ask for help."

"Personal interests are important, too."

"Recognize the importance of goofing off."

As you may guess from these taglines, the author continually emphasizes, in a variety of terms, the importance of setting aside opportunities for relaxation, personal time, and fun. She summarizes, "All work and no play doesn't make LaQuette a dull girl; it makes her a snappy, disgruntled ogre...." I especially like the recommendation to goof off. I can do that!

That's goofing off in the context of a routine that also allows for a balance of work and other activities directed toward one's own personal goals, of course. However: "Let no one make you feel bad about taking your downtime seriously." The combination of "seriously" and "downtime" in the same sentence invites us to think hard about the apparent paradox.

I'm not sure I fully agree with LaQuette's broad statement, "Hard work to the point of mental, emotional, and physical collapse is what we're encouraged to do." It seems to me that our culture is beginning to repudiate that destructive mind-set. Otherwise, why would we see so many articles about work-life balance such as this one?

On a different topic, try to pick up a copy of the July issue of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the first moon landing, the cover story focuses on space travel, past, present, and future, with lavish illustrations.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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