I was recently asked by a fellow writer not yet published if a writing career was going to cut into her time with her children and family. She was very concerned with the effect her 'career' could have on her kids. She wanted reassurance. I'm not sure I gave it to her, but she caught me in a moment of painful honesty and that was with what I answered her. I thought I would include it here, not to discourage anyone, but simply to put into focus that while we all have our own 'plan' there are sacrifices to be made for all things we bring into our life and no one, NO ONE, gets out of that. I edited this a little bit for space and for relativity. If Writing isn't your thing, insert something else that fills your mind and heart, something you long for and yet fear at the same time. We all have them:
Yes. Writing will cut into your time with your children. It will cut into your time with your husband. It will cut into your housekeeping, gardening, exercise, reading, church callings, community responsibilities, family vacations, and at times your personal hygiene. Everything we do that is not right there next to our family takes us away from them. Sometimes it hurts. I have had times when I am blinking back tears as I drive to a presentation because I know my home and family are ‘undone’ yet I’ve made a commitment to whoever I’m presenting too and I can’t simply NOT do it. I’ve had times when my husband has told me I’m overdoing it and my focus is not where it needs to be. We have argued about it. My kids have said things like "You're always on the computer!" or "I don't want you to leave again?"
Sometimes I wish I’d never started because then I would have one less thing to worry about, one less piece to cut myself into. But when these moments come I remember that I was missing something before I started writing. I AM happier now than I was then, but simply being happy doesn't take the hardship away.
I have always been ambitious and busy and when I discovered writing all of that energy went into something that felt marvelous—sharing my thoughts within framework of characters and plots I grew to love was just . . . right. At the time it was so much fun that it was easy to fit in and enjoy every moment. It was a hobby. It isn't anymore. Since then it’s grown into a BIG thing in my life and it takes up a lot of room in my head, on my calendar, on my hard drive and in my house. I’ve chosen to make a place for it and I try to make wise decisions about how much space it can have, but it is there, it is always there. I’ve missed plays my kids are in, classroom parties, sporting events, and other significant moments because of obligations tied to my writing. I hate that, and yet writing is part of my reason for being here, I know it is. My kids are part of why I’m here as well, I know that too. They aren’t going to be in my home forever and writing might not be a part of my life forever either—there is no way to know what will happen next year or five years from now and so I try to do my best and enjoy both phases of my life as best I can. Right now I find myself at the top of my game, my books are doing better than ever and it thrills me to the core, but it also demands more of me and creates more stress in my life and that of my family. To stop now would be to lose what I've worked so hard for, and it's not an option. So I keep going, and I keep asking the Lord for help in finding balance, and I keep working on my mothering so that I don’t feel so guilty when I’m not physically present, and I schedule my presentations, and read writing books, and I brainstorm and edit and live in fear of the day when this might all be over. And I write.
Every day is a balance—sometimes my family is on the losing end of it. Sometimes my church calling is, or my husband, or my own peace of mind. But I love writing. I need it. And so I sacrifice for it with my eyes wide open, always looking at the scales to see if I’m off base, always watching for empty hours I can fill with words, and always praying that the Lord will let me know when I need to pull back.
He usually does, but that hurts too.
I can’t promise that adding a writing career won’t upset the balance in your home so much that you bleed. I also can’t promise that you will set such an example to your children that their lives will be forever blessed BECAUSE of your writing, not in spite of it. Every writer I know has to find the balance, has to make the choice to move forward, and then they have to commit to all of it—family, church, writing, and themselves. If you’re not ready, don’t do it. It is hard. If you’re ready, take a deep breath, get on your knees and pray for courage, faith and that you can keep your priorities straight.
Only you can decide if you're up to this, only you can add something this big to your life and find the balance. No one can do it for you, and no one should. Your life is your own journey, and no one carries your pack for you. Decide what you can carry, and then commit to do your best. I wish you luck.