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GYWD #5: Finding the “Write” Balance

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Today we’re going to tackle the question of how to find the right balance between work, life, writing, and whatever else it is you’re getting up to these days. This is an age old question and a lot of people have spilled a lot of ink on it. There’s a very good reason for that: balance is something you never stop needing to think about. It is an omnipresent challenge of life, one that none of us can escape.

You might even say that the key to living your best life requires having a good strategy for balancing all the many things you have to do, and want to do, before you depart this mortal coil. And I think that for writers finding and managing that balance is trickier than it is for many. So that’s our challenge today, and when things get real, like all great philosophers I turn to board games for answers.

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Careers: One of the best board games of my childhood


Jason Cohen, “You Can Have Two Big Things, Not Three,”
Buy the board game Careers

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Trevor Thrall
Welcome to the Get your writing done podcast. I’m Trevor Thrall, author of the 12 week year for writers. Today we’re going to tackle the question of how to find the right balance between work, life writing, and whatever else it is you’re getting up to these days. This is an age old question, and a lot of people have spilled a lot of ink on it, there’s a very good reason for that, of course, balance is something you never stopped needing to think about. It is an omnipresent challenge of life, one that none of us can escape. You might even say that the key to living your best life requires having a great strategy for balancing all the many things you have to do, and want to do before you depart this mortal coil. And I think that for writers, finding, and managing that balance is trickier than it is for many. So that’s our challenge today. And when things get real, like all great philosophers, I turned to board games for answers.

Unknown Speaker 20:20
And between the first draft revisions, talking about it with people doing the research that I did do while I was writing the book, and then revising, and copying, and some, you know, at least 500 hours, over less than a year period. But if it took you say, 500 hours, in a year, if I give you two weeks for vacation, that’s a 10 hour a week job that you’ve just added to your life to write your first novel, or your first nonfiction work. And that’s, frankly, if they’re a reasonable size, reasonable length, if you have a reasonably easy time doing it, it can, it can easily take you much more than that, to get the first thing done. And so, you know, again, how ambitious you are, is going to determine how big a thing this is in your life. But, you know, the implications, I think, are, you know, pretty clear here. If, if you want it to be a big thing, if you if you want to write that novel, or that nonfiction work in one year, you need to be prepared, that it’s gonna be a pretty big dent in your schedule, your balance is going to have to shift, right, and it’s going to be trial and error. And it’s going to have to move around, you have to look for strategies to make this new balance work. Because you know, the way things go is the status quo is jealous of itself, right and jealous of its time, everyone who’s got part of your time right now is going to keep wanting it. And so you’re gonna have to renegotiate, you got to figure out how to get 10 hours a week, in your schedule, if you’re gonna write 10 hours a week, for 50 weeks and produce a book. Right? And, and if you want to write something faster than that, if you have an opportunity to do, you could get a book done in six months, and you know, maybe some kind of deal or whatever well, and now you’re talking about 20 hours a week or more. Right. So that’s not, that’s not easy to do. And the second

Trevor Thrall 1:04
Hi, there, I’m gonna start today’s podcast by dating myself a little bit. Do any of you remember the board game careers? It was a game that came out I think in 1955 originally, No, I did not play it back then. You could find me playing it quite a bit in the late 70s. Anyway, it was a fantastic board game. And as I was thinking about today’s episode, I realized that this board game offers a really fantastic way to think about work life balance. So the game was a fairly straightforward board game of the time, you had to be the first person to get to 60 points. But the genius of the game was that before you started playing, each player had to determine how they were going to collect the 60 points across three different categories, money, fame, and happiness, you can distribute the points any way you wanted. But you could only win if you got exactly that many points in each bucket. Anyway, this is just a fantastic game. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized, it offers a whole bunch of lessons for thinking about work life balance. Lesson One was that you can’t have everything. You only had 60 points to get in the game. But when you think about it, it’s pretty easy to see that another way to look at that is that you only have 60 points to give in a life. There are so many hours in a week, you only have so many years and a life. There’s a limit to how much you can have. You can’t have all the money and all the happiness, you can’t have all the career success and have the world’s best closest family. Right. So that was an important lesson, easily visible from the game. Closely related is lesson to every balance that you might go for requires trade offs. Pretty straightforward concept, but also extremely powerful. And fundamental truth about balance. Every hour you spend at the gym is an hour you’re not writing, it’s an hour, you’re not walking the dog or hanging out with your friends. Every hour you’re writing is an hour, you’re not on the beach, it’s an hour you’re not with your friends, it’s an hour you’re not doing something else. And you know, it’s a battle royale for your time. work life balance is really kind of a misnomer, obviously, especially these days. I mean, who only has one job. For starters, it’s a work, work work, life, life, life life balance. I think for most people, multiple hustles. I know a lot of entrepreneurs and creators, and people who have three or four different things going on at any given time. a freelancer might have a whole bunch of clients that all compete with each other for their time. And then on the life side, it’s not like life is one thing that gets balanced against work. No, no, no, it’s a whole bunch of things. And the iron law of time is that any minute any hour you spend doing one thing is an hour you don’t spend doing the other things. And concerning those first two lessons, you can’t have everything. And every balance requires a trade off. I want to share with you a provocative blog post by an entrepreneur, a wildly successful entrepreneur named Jason Cohen. And he wrote a post and I’ll put it in the show notes called you can have two big things, but not three. And he’s sort of it’s a very short post. I really encourage you to read it. But he’s very straightforward about this. He says look, the day is got 24 hours. You’re sleeping and brushing your teeth for eight hours a day. You’re at work eight hours a day and that leaves one more chunk of eight hours a day. And he said to do a big thing like work work is a big thing. It takes you about 40 hours or more a week. And he said if you’re sleeping eight hours and you’re working is one of your big things is maximum. You have time for one more big thing in your week. Or in your life. And what does he mean by big things, he means a startup, he writes a blog for startups, and he’s an entrepreneur, that’s what he mostly is thinking about. So startup would be a big thing. a spouse, he says, is a big thing. Kids is a separate big thing. And he actually makes a distinction there to point out that looked, a lot of young marriages suffer when the kids come along, because it’s very hard to give full time and attention to both. ask anybody with kids, I think they’ll agree with that. And I think we, for our purposes, could easily add, being an author to that list of big things, especially if you’re sort of an author printer, that you’re writing books, you’re marketing, you’re building a website, you’re doing all those things, trying to make a big splash out of your writing. So you can only have two big things he argues, not three. And and there’s a great quote in there that said, you know, look, some people try to have it all men and women both try it, but it never works. at most two things can function well, anything else you try to do on top of that isn’t going to work very well. Or it might be a total failure.

You can have two big things, but not three. And I think that really, it’s it’s it’s, you know, directly flows from, you can’t have everything. And time balance, every balance requires trade offs, because he’s saying, look, you can have some of them, but you can’t have others as a result. Right. And I think that’s a provocative way to put it. It’s also very blunt. And I think probably, you would not be alone, if hearing that you your back gets up or you get a little defensive or you feel a little judged, maybe I can tell you from the comments, you would not be the only person to feel that way. And I’m going to come back to that later. But I think that’s a really interesting way to think about the problem that balance puts in front of us. So the third lesson is that balance is intensely personal. And I loved watching other kids play this game, because you really saw people’s personalities in the way they went at this game. So you have to distribute your points across these three different categories has to add up to 60. So you know, sometimes a kid playing for the first time would just go well, I don’t really know. So I’m going to put 20 at 20 and 20. You know, the easiest way to do it. Other people would sit there and study the board, and try to look and figure out a strategy for some other distribution of points that made the most sense, I’m going to do 30 on Monday, because I think that’s going to be easier not to do 10 of happiness, because that looks like it’s kind of harder, or I think I see a constellation of squares where if I focus over there, I can do something, right. So the strategy is out there. And then you’d have the kids who just came in and wanted nothing more than to put zany numbers now I’m gonna do 37 on money and four on him, just because it was interesting to them. Isn’t that just a great sort of summary of life in general, we all bring our own person hoods to this game, the balance that’s right for you isn’t right. For me, the balance that is right for you isn’t right for someone else. This is an incredibly personal thing. And, you know, as I talked about a couple weeks ago, when I was talking about the vision thing, you know, your dreams about what the right kind of life looks like, and where you’re trying to go. Right? That is the sort of thing that should be reflected in your vision doesn’t have to be reflected in anyone else’s, but it has to be right for you. You know, it’s interesting,

the two big things, comment is really, to me very interesting on these lines, because, you know, he’s writing for a startup audience and people who are very ambitious, obviously. And, you know, I’m guessing that my audience here is relatively ambitious, too, because I think you’re probably trying to add writing on top of perhaps a big career or other things going on in your life that most of us, most of us have. But there’s an interesting bias kind of implicit in the you can have two big things not three. And the obvious, well, maybe some obvious, but the bias to me when I think about it is it assumes you want big things. It assumes that you In fact, want three or four big things, but he’s trying to remind you that you only can have two and on the one hand, I you know, think that’s really good advice to ambitious people lick your plate is only so big, there are only so many hours in a day. You need to be mindful, or else you might you know, burn out, you could lose a relationship, you could lose, you know, a job or a friend, if you’re trying to do so much that you can’t keep everything going in a healthy sustainable way. But, but on the other hand, the interesting thing is that what if I’m a person who doesn’t even want one big thing? What if, what if I don’t want big things? What if my personal you know, vision, my dream, life is is small things. For example, we once lived Next to a single guy, you know, many years ago now, and he was a really nice guy, I think he had inherited the house that he lived in, he did not have a full time job that we could ever discern. And my picture in my head of him, that we saw so much that kind of just, you know, seared itself into my memory, is is him strolling from, from our neighborhood, towards downtown Ann Arbor. And he loved to eat apples. And so I always think of him throwing an apple up in the air and then taking a bite. And that was his happy place, man walking downtown, eating an apple, he did not have big dreams. That was it for him, and he’d come home and not do not much else, you know, didn’t really mow his yard didn’t take care of it. He didn’t really have much on his plate. But he seemed really happy. That was the right balance for him would not work for me, but it was fantastic for him. So maybe you don’t need a big thing, right, there’s no requirement that you have a big thing, writing doesn’t have to be a big thing for you, it can be a medium thing, a small thing, right. And I think that’s one of the other things that I’m gonna come back to in a little bit is the two big things is a provocation, it’s an interesting way to start thinking about one of the problems of balance, which is that we’re facing a limited amount of time to get things done in. But at the same time, I think it’s really important to know that the balance that you’re trying to build is a personal one. And big or little, what we’re really shooting for is the blend that works best for us. Okay, lesson four, how you distribute your points, determines how you have to play the game. So in the game of careers, you distribute your points before the game starts. And then Off you go. And the way the game was designed was really cool. So there’s an outside track, kind of like, you know, monopoly, you go around the board on the outside. And then around, depending on what era your game was there, either six or eight different occupation tracks that you would kind of go in from the outside track, and you kind of circle around through the special little inside track. And inside tracks are things like college, or big business, Hollywood, go to see farming expedition to the moon, different sort of career tracks or experiences that you could have. And the neat thing about those was that of course, as you might expect, different careers, different occupations provide a different set of benefits. If you went to the big business track, there are more opportunities to win a lot of money points, if you went to the go to C track for some reason, there are a lot of happiness points, and you get the you get the idea. If you went to college, you could get credentials that then let you go and make more money on certain tracks. So there were just as in life, you you’re you’re leading, you’re finding a strategy to fulfill your point distribution, because it didn’t make sense if you put all your points on money to go to see because there’s no money out there. Right. So how you distribute your points, determined how you had to play the game of careers was another reason the game was so fun, because you could play a different kind of game each time you played. But isn’t that another great way to think about life, if you want your balance to include, for example, a lot of writing, then it’s on you to play the game accordingly. You need to organize your life in a way that makes it possible for you to do that writing.

Again, you know, in our busy lives, it’s very easy to let the predators the time predators eat away at your time. And to load up our plates with so many obligations and to dues, even if they’re good ones, even if they’re exciting things. It’s so easy to do that, that we don’t really leave ourselves enough time for writing or maybe for other things, right. I’m sure we’ve all gotten so busy that we’ve let things go that we wish we weren’t letting go. For example, I know many people, and I’ve definitely been one of these people lets their exercise go when things get too busy, right. And so, again, especially because many kinds of writing that we’re doing are not urgent, maybe not for business not for you know, it’s not there’s no due date, no due date, it can be hard to keep those creditors from eating your precious writing time. But if your point distribution has a bunch of points in that writing column, right, then it’s incumbent on you to play the game in order to get those points at lesson five is that finding the right balance takes trial and error. So in the game, you know, you distribute your points and you figure I put a lot of points on money. And so I need to go to the big business track and scoop up all that money points, you know, but you know, the way games are the games of chance, and just like life, and so you’d toggle over to the big business track. And you’d roll the dice to move your way through it. And sometimes you just didn’t land on the money squares. Or sometimes you went bankrupt, and you lost all your money points going through that big business track. Right? It didn’t always work the first time through your strategy. And so you had to back up and find other ways to win. Exactly like life, is it not? I know that, you know, none of us knows ahead of time, exactly how we’re going to figure out how to balance all of our obligations and to dues. And you know, even when you take what seemed like obvious steps in the right direction, those don’t always work out either. You know, for example, many people in the search, have the right balance, go back to school. They want to slow down, they want to go back to school, they want to recharge, they want to redirect, and so on, so forth. But you know, that doesn’t always work. Sometimes you get to school, you get partway through a degree. And you realize, this is not what I want to be doing. This is not where I want to be going. This isn’t working for me. Sometimes, for example, I know some people who have moved from full time down to part time jobs in order to make more room for writing and other things. And sometimes that works. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes moving from 40 hours to 30 hours, or even 40 to 20. Turns out not to save you very much time because your bosses and your colleagues never stopped paying you on the days when you’re not in the office. And they expect you to do basically the same job you were doing when you were full time, even though you’re only halftime now. And so instead of a stress relief and time relief. It turns out that part time job isn’t always a magic strategy. Even on paper, it looked fantastic. And this is not a bug of the system of of the game of life. This is the feature, right? It’s it’s complicated. We’re rats in a maze, trying to find the cheese all the time. And our first efforts are almost never perfect, never the right final answer on these things. And so trial and error is really the name of the game. So that’s a lot of lessons to learn from a silly board game that we played as kids. But when you think about it, that’s a lot of useful lessons for thinking about life. That you can’t have everything, that every balance requires trading off different things against having other different things that your perfect balance is intensely personal for you that the way you distribute your points, the balance that you’re hoping for should determine how you play the game, how you pursue how you how you do live. And that any form of balance is going to be a matter of trial and error, that getting the balance where you want, it is never a given. It’s never easy. Sometimes it’s not obvious how you get there. That’s an awful lot of wisdom from a board game, in my opinion. And I you know, I feel like I gotta go get my hands on that game.

I haven’t played it in years. But boy, I would love to have a game of that right now. All right, now I want to talk about a few other observations, off roading now from our careers framework, but for for us writer types, just some other thoughts about finding the right balance with respect to writing in particular. And the first observation is, again, not a gee whiz one. But again, I think, a really important and most fundamental thing for writers to grapple with, which is that writing takes a lot of time. You know, it’s very easy for writing to become a big thing, in the term that Jason Cohen in the way that Jason Cohen meant big thing, ie it can take a lot of time. You know, I don’t think maybe most writers who are not professionals, or full time writers probably spend 40 hours a week or more. But again, if you’re trying to make if you’re trying to become a full time writer, if you are seeking if you have an ambitious set of goals for your publishing, career or path, or if you are, you know, on a grind for a business and you’re putting out blog posts and newsletters and other content, whatever it might be. It’s easy for writing to grow into something big. And for those of you who maybe aren’t writers right now or haven’t written the book yet that is inside you that you want to bring to the world you know nonfiction or fiction doesn’t matter. These things take a long time and I can tell you from experience is especially the first time it takes a long time because you don’t really know what you’re doing yet.

You know, I think I didn’t told up the exact number For hours, but I know I spent somewhere around 500 hours writing the 12 week year for writers. And that was a book. You know, I’ve written many things, many zillions of words before that written books before, knew the system inside and out, didn’t need to do a lot of research for it.

sort of observation on that is, it’s kind of the flip side, like, let’s say, you realize, wow, I don’t, I don’t want to put that big a dent. In my schedule I have, I’m very happy with many of the other things I’m doing, I just want to, I just want to make some progress on my book, or I want to write a book, but I don’t, I don’t want it to take up that much time. Or I don’t, I want to write forever, but I don’t, I don’t want to fulfill, you know, take up so much of my time. Well, I think that’s also a great decision if that’s where you’re at, if that’s the right balance for you. But I think the important thing to do is to make sure that your ambitions are level with the amount of time you’re able to put in, because I think one of the things that we sometimes get into a mental trap, when we have maybe an expectation of ourself that we’re going to write this book, or maybe we’re supposed to write many books in our mind, or whatever it might be. But if you don’t have the time to put in, to actually get all that work done to be a multi, you know, book writing person, if you just don’t have that room in your life, you need to be able to sit down the psychic burden, that is telling her that voice, you need to stop that voice inside your head saying, hey, you have to write this book, you have to read all these books you have to whatever, right, if you just don’t have the time, if you have other things that are higher on your list, right and your personal balance equation, if they’re more important than writing a book, or whatever, then let that be okay. And I know that can be hard because I think a lot of people sort of held on to this feeling, I’ve got to write a book, I’ve got to make time, I got to find the way, there’s no magic way to do this, you need to set aside the time on a regular basis for however long it is to produce whatever it is you’re you’re hoping for. And if it’s if it’s okay to you that it takes five years if you have that kind of grit and you can keep something going an hour at a time, over five years. And finally finish it. That might be exactly the right way to do this. But if you really just don’t have that much time, I think I’m gonna do a podcast on how to write when you really don’t have a lot of time. Because there’s some other strategies that you could think about. You know, getting a ghostwriter, getting a partner, a collaborator, learning how to dictate, you know, chunks of this thing while you’re in the bath or whatever. But any rate you need to be, you need to find a small way of moving forward that fits the time that you do have. Okay, next thought is that it often takes a village to create the right balance. And this is especially true for people who are married and relationships with kids and bosses and all those sorts of other things. But the more kind of interconnected you are with the others around Aren’t you, the more work you’re going to have to ask them to do, or the more work they’re going to have to do to accommodate your needs as a writer, there’s a reason in the acknowledgments page of so many books that you see author saying, thanks to my, you know, long suffering partner, family, whoever, my boss, my editor, because this was late, or whatever it was, but, but the point is, is that, again, writing does take a lot of time. And it’s also a solo activity, you know, I can’t write in the middle of the living room, I can’t write with, you know, my wife nearby, or with my kids, or, you know, even the dog has to shut up, you know, I mean, I need time by myself to get the writing done. And so if, if I need to carve out 500 hours over eight or nine months, and that’s not during my work hours, that’s a big ask. And that’s going to come from somewhere. And so you’re going to need to make the compromises and promises and the you know, return the favors. And if you need to tell your boss, you need to take off early from work on Fridays, or every day, so you can finish your dissertation, or you can finish your novel or your magazine article, or whatever it is you’re working on. Sometimes you have to do that. But I can tell you, there’s, there’s no way around it. For most of us. If you write for a living, or you write in a big way, you’re going to have to ask for help. Because it’s very difficult to do all of this without bumping into the other obligations that you have out there. I mean, for me, the biggest example of how it took a village to make a balance was when I moved from my sort of real rural job into my first academic job. And in order to change the balance from I wasn’t getting any writing and research done in this previous job to Okay, now I have a job where I can do that, that balance required us selling our house, moving to a cheaper part of town, buying a different house, moving the kids to a different school. I mean, this was a serious move. And I couldn’t have done it by myself, there was no way I was going to be able to become a writer, and a researcher without the village. And so that’s maybe an extreme example, but I think it gives you a sense of, you know, if you’re very serious about writing, if you really want to be a writer, and you’re not right now, then be ready to make some big changes, potentially, right. And, and, again, this is a personal thing. So maybe that’s too much. But figure out what the right amount that you’re going to need in your life to be a happy person is, and then work on getting people around you to help make it happen. Okay, a third thought here is then in I’m stealing this phrase from my sister, I’ll get this a little bit wrong. But But balance is a verb, not a destination. You might also think of it as a skill, or like, I don’t know, like a yoga practice or something. It is something we do, it is not something we get to. You know, as I mentioned earlier, finding the right balance is about trial and error. But what I didn’t sort of say back then is that that trailer never never ends. We are always being challenged to refine our balance after various and sundry events. ruin the balance that we had previously. For me, for example, my schedule keeps changing. So semester, by semester, the days that I teach change, and you wouldn’t believe it, but that simple change really messes with my weekly schedule. I go from Tuesday, Thursday, teaching in the fall to monday, wednesday teaching in the spring. And I you know, I don’t know how you are about Mondays, but I have a Monday thing. So if so, I’m not great on Mondays, and teaching on Mondays, is is okay. But I really prefer not to teach on Mondays. So I do much better if I don’t have my Tuesday, Thursday, teaching days. And Monday, I can start slow, I can be at home, I’ll have a much more productive day writing at home. And if I have to go to class on a Monday, it’s the week starts on all wrong. So I have to recalibrate just semester by semester, your schedule will change on dial eight for your own set of reasons. There are many people out there, many forces out there, the time predators, as I just mentioned, your work schedule will change. You’ll get a promotion, you’ll get married, you’ll get a dog, you’ll have kids, all the things I tell my grad students not to do while they’re getting their dissertation done. Because each one of these things makes it progressively more difficult for them to finish. And you think I’m joking. I’m not joking. I tell all of them this when they come to grad school, I say here’s the things you’re going to do in your 20s if you haven’t already, please don’t do any of these things where you’ll never finish your dissertation. And I’m saying it’s sort of tongue in cheek. But um, but what I’m really doing is warning them that Look, balance is going to be a verb, every one of these things you do is wonderful, I will clap for you, I will cheer you on, as you get married as you get that job, but just know ahead of time that each one of these things you do is going to be a threat that you don’t finish your writing that you’re never finished that dissertation. And I’ve seen many, many students, indeed, you know, not finished, for all these various reasons,

they get a great job they weren’t expecting, they fell in love with the job, then they get a promotion. And now they’re making so much money. They’re like, what do I need a PhD for? Do they regret not getting a PhD? Yeah, maybe they do? I don’t know. But I do know that it just happens a lot that other things intervene, and make it difficult to finish your writing. And if it’s really important to you, you need to be prepared ahead of time so that when these things happen, yeah, you don’t necessarily predict exactly when this is going to happen. But you’re mentally ready to strike a new balance to look for a new balance to plan ahead before you take the new job. Alright, I’m thinking about this new job, but how might that affect my time that I have to get the dissertation done to get my writing done, I really need to finish this book, or I want to keep doing my blog, or my newsletter. So am I going to have time I follow someone online, for example, who writes a wonderful weekly newsletter, who’s now going back to get a PhD. And, and I’m thinking Good luck with that, I hope you have a lot of people to help you write that newsletter, because I can tell you that it’s gonna be tough, I could not have done that. in grad school. You know, some people can everyone’s you know, balances personal. And, of course, also, our different plates are of different sizes. So some people can do all sorts of stuff, and seem to manage. Some of us can’t do so many things at all, and, and find those people pretty incredible. And so then the last thing I want to talk about now that we’re all experts on work life balance, is the advanced topic, we’ll go to grad school now. And I want to talk a little bit about intentional imbalance. You know, we talked about balance being so important. And, you know, look, let’s be fair balance has never meant equal amounts of attention to everything in your life. You know, some people live to work, some people work to live, some people, you know, do a lot of one hobby, and some people do a whole bunch of different things a little bit, there’s no right answer to that question. But what I mean by intentional imbalance is that, you know, sometimes in life, you need to focus to get things done. Schools, a good example of this, people coming to the end of school, you need to finish a thesis, you need to finish a dissertation, or when you’re trying to get a book done. Sometimes you need a crunch time, you need a period of uninterrupted, like jam and focus, in order to push something across the finish line. Some some things, you know, I think writing often, some people can write, you know, in dribs and drabs, and it’s authentic, but I think that a lot of people find especially trying to put a final draft together of something that it takes a an extended period of focus. And the problem with the problem with that, there’s a challenge with that is that, let’s imagine you have this carefully crafted balance in your life, where writing takes up, you know, x hours a week, and everyone is okay with that, and your team and, and your network, and you’re going along fine. And then all of a sudden, you realize, oh, gosh, I need like two months, where I do nothing at night except finish this dang thing, or it’s never getting done. Or it just won’t get done with the quality, it means I need to I need to hibernate, and that punches a hole in your schedule. Now. I think this is actually fine and required. And sometimes, like I said, sometimes we have to violate the normal rules of balance in order to focus and get enough traction, that we can finish a really particularly hard thing. You know, I always joke, you know, accountants have tax season, where you have to just if you’re married to an accountant, I think you just have to say goodbye, I’ll see you in May, or whatever.

I think writers often have their tax seasons. And so if you’re going to have a tax season, I think one of the things to think about is how to make it maximally useful and effective. And, you know, for me, that’s where the 12 week year comes in. A big concept behind the 12 week year is this idea that, you know, you’re going to use 12 weeks at a time to focus on getting stuff done in a narrow and a narrow channel, not on a whole bunch of projects, but you’re going to really get a lot done on one thing. And so for me, that’s how I think of these kind of crunch times. Yes, I’m going to create a 12 week plan that helps me make care progress on my book. And I’m going to do that, you know, in sequence until I’m done. But sometimes that 12 week plan reflects a normal amount of work on a book. But sometimes that 12 week plan might require a lot more work, right, you might be wanting a 12 week plan that has twice as much time for writing three times whatever the number is, maybe you’re going to take a summer holiday borrow of a cabin in Maine from a friend. Hope you have such friends. And and just lock yourself in a room and type as much as you can. That kind of 12 week plan would be pretty exciting, right? But the point is, is that used judiciously, right. And intentional imbalance can be a very powerful tool, because it’s not the kind of thing you can do all the time, you can’t burn the candle on both ends all the time. But sometimes you need a stretch where you say, Look, I’m gonna stop trying to make progress on so many other things in my life, like I normally have a lot of things, but maybe for this stretch, I’m, I am going to go to the gym less, I’m going to walk instead of going to the gym, or whatever it might be, I’m going to, you know, cut back on seeing friends, I’m going to cut back and going out, I’m not going to go to the games at night or whatever. And I’m gonna do this thing. And the trick is, right, that’s not how you want to live all the time. But if it’s something that you need occasionally, and you can, again, make the right, you know, promises and compromises with your team and so on. I think that can be an effective occasional tool for writers especially because it’s so hard sometimes to wrangle all those thoughts and ideas if you don’t have a bunch of time in a row to do it. And so that’s my sort of final thought about work life balance. This is a big topic. It’s probably not the last time I’ll talk about it on the podcast, but I just want to get the conversation started. Throw it out there. I’ve been having some conversations with folks recently where this has been on the you know, at the front of a lot of people’s minds. And so I wanted to get this out there. I’m really excited and interested to hear what you guys are thinking about and what you have to say what some thoughts, you know, struggles that you’re having. I’d love to have conversation about this. So please shoot some comments or shoot me an email at Hello at get writing done calm.

In the meantime until we talk again, happy writing!


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