I have a confession to make: my name is Chaunie and I’m a write-aholic.
I have always been a woman who enjoys working and independence, but when I first stumbled upon freelance writing as a career, I felt like surely someone out there was playing some sort of cosmic trick on me. You’re telling me that I can get paid to do something I love to learn more about other things that actually interest me?
It just seemed too good to be true and honestly, that feeling has never left me. I love my job as a writer, but as much as I love it, I also admit that it can be a challenge to maintain a good work-life balance, simply because every spare second is an opportunity to work. Unlike an office job or even my former life as a nurse when I clocked in and out, I have the ability to work as much as I want and make as much as I want. So, I find it challenging to turn my work “off” for the day or even to find any other hobbies I enjoy outside of writing. In my mind, if I have a spare minute, why wouldn’t I be writing?
The answer? It’s impossible to be productive 24/7 for one, and two, because life should be about more than working. In fact, studies show that taking time off, especially for hobbies you enjoy, can only help boost your productivity as a writer. So, if you’re anything like me and have trouble figuring out what to do with your life outside of writing, here are some suggestions:
Move in nature
Many writers are introspective by nature and we prefer quiet activities that can help calm our minds without a lot of extra stimulation. Getting outside and into nature in any capacity whatsoever, whether that’s taking an actual hike or simply walking around your yard, can be incredibly beneficial to your mind and body.
One of the biggest challenges for me as a writer is to get outside of my own head. I feel like I spend so much time inside of my own mind that frankly, I’m sick of it. I just want to stop thinking for a change, which is exactly what meditation can offer. Now, it takes time and practice to actually be good enough to practice meditation in a way that it empties your mind completely, so this might be something you have to stick with for a while, but I promise, it does work eventually. And when you finally experience the freedom of not thinking, it’s a feeling you will want to re-create again and again.
Attend an intense exercise class
You may be catching a theme amongst my suggestions here, but this next one comes, again, from a place of wanting to empty my mind. I find writing to be very mentally draining, leaving me exhausted at the end of the day without being actually physically exhausted. It’s a strange place to be and leaves me feeling rather restless and irritable, like I have no actual reason to be so tired by 9 PM.
To counteract that feeling, a few years ago, I decided to try weightlifting. I was immediately hooked. Being forced to focus so completely on something entirely physical helps me empty my mind in a way that nothing else does and the experience is downright blissful to someone who spends 99.99% of her life in her own head.
Start a networking group
I tend to feel guilty of thinking that unless I am directly writing something for money, I am not benefiting my career. This, of course, is a fallacy. Writing, like any other career, benefits from interacting with other people, meeting those who share your profession, and brainstorming ideas or simply laughing about what it’s like to make money from home without wearing any pants. Many of us long for that kind of connection with other writers, but don’t know where to find it, so if there are no groups in your area, why not start one yourself? Even a handful of people getting together can be a fun (and productive!) way to interact with other writers—and force yourself to put on pants.
Take a class
As writers, most of us are naturally curious and love to learn about new things, so put that curiosity to good use with a class that can teach you a new skill. You can try your hand at baking, cooking, cake-decorating, sailing, candle-making, or even massage therapy. And let’s face it, because we’re all writers here, you know that learning a new skill is going to make really good fodder for the next article…
Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer. She lives in Michigan with her husband, four young kids, and a flock of chickens. Find her at chauniebrusie.com.