How many balls can you juggle in your life? How do you recover when you inevitably drop one or more?
Most, if not all, writers are juggling multiple balls every day. You have these brightly colored balls labeled neatly with Writing, Editing, Research, Publishing, Marketing. Those are just the balls related to the writing side of life. Then you add in the balls labeled Exercise, Social Life, Family, Work, Illness, and everything else that makes up Life. And it is a lot for anyone to keep all those balls in the air all the time. Inevitably, each and every one of us is going to drop one or more of them.
Last May I wrote about living with a chronic illness and how that impacts my writing life. I described flares as periods of time when the symptoms take on acute and constant pain directly impacting and interfering with navigating life due to your energy being sapped. The same energy we use to get through each day juggling as many balls as possible. I've been caught in a severe flare of my chronic illness for the last five months and I'm still working on recovery. This means I've dropped a number of balls, including the fact that I have not completely finished and published a new book in five months.
Juggling fails are not fun. They are often discouraging and can make you question why you're trying to juggle at all. That's okay. You are allowed to feel disappointed when you drop those balls. Sometimes you have to drop a ball or two in order to recover and start again. Even when I haven't been able to write, I have been researching and refueling through reading and watching genre specific movies/TV shows. They're not the primary balls I wanted to be juggling, but they were the ones I could handle even in the middle of a very bad flare.
When you have a juggling fail, what matters most is you do not let that fail convince you to quit. There are writers in all walks and stages of life, from busy moms to full-time workers/part-time writers to chronic illness warriors, who have shared their writing successes no matter what they're juggling. One of the biggest defining factors in their success was their perseverance. They chose to pick up the dropped balls and try again. They chose not to quit.
There will always be times in life when you experience juggling fails for one reason or another. Sometimes the solution is to take a hard look at everything you're juggling and choose which balls are going to be your priority for this season. Choose a different set to put aside for now in order to pick back up the Writing, Editing, and Publishing balls. Juggling is about balance and timing. Recovering from our juggling fails requires our willingness to shuffle priorities at times and, most of all, our willingness to keep trying. If you've dropped a couple of balls (or more), it is not a loss. It's merely an opportunity to reassess, readjust, and try again.
Keep juggling and persevering!
Kimberly A. Rogers