When I started writing for pay, it was because I wanted to have more time with my family. I’m not talking about writing books, but writing in general. At the time, I worked as a freelance copywriter. I’d connected with several websites and wrote whatever they needed. For a while, I could dig up instruction manuals for just about anything and turn them into how-to articles in my sleep.
The problem was I wasn’t fulfilled. There was no joy in that work, other than knowing I was able to make enough money to help make ends meet.
I took part in NaNoWriMo for the first time when my daughter was a year old. And I failed. Well, my hard drive failed and I completely lost the will to continue. I tried again a few years later, when I was working full time, going to school full time, and had just found out I was pregnant with our son. I didn’t finish that year, either. But I refused to give up.
Writing fiction brought me back from a dark place. As much as I love my family, 2005 brought about too many changes too quickly. I felt as though I was losing myself. Within a matter of months, I became a wife and a mother, and those were the labels I wore in public. But when I sat behind the computer screen, I was my own person. I was doing what I wanted to do and I truly feel like that made me a better wife and mother. For a while.
In 2012, I published my first novel. That was a wakeup call for me, because even though I’ve never hit the New York Times or USA Today best-sellers lists, I was making more money than I had been doing that soul-draining copywriting. It became my drug of choice. I got caught up in the quest to do more, faster. The sales that made me happy on one book seemed inadequate on the next. So I spent more time at the computer, writing, revising, publishing, and oh, my God, the marketing. The never-ending marketing, hours spent trying to be seen in an ever growing library of published books.
By late 2013, I’d almost lost my family. I’ll never forget the day I stood in my kitchen and had a very calm discussion with my husband about how I felt like we weren’t going to make it and should figure out how to make our split easiest on our children. While writing wasn’t the sole reason for our problems, it played a big part. I felt like he wasn’t supporting me and he felt that I was ignoring them in favor of the world inside my screen.
I’d like to say I changed right then and there, but that’d be a lie. I did, however, start making some changes, and so did he. We came back from it. Early this year, I finally had this moment where I threw up my hands and decided that I’d had enough.
I started writing as a way to support my family, but over time, I’d allowed writing to become the primary function of my life and they were taking a back seat. They paid the price every time I didn’t hit some totally arbitrary number. I didn’t spend enough time with my kids, because there was always “one more thing” I needed to do.
That’s why I vowed to become more efficient with my writing and my life. If I had a “normal” job, I would go to work, come home, and be a wife and mother. I don’t do that, but I should treat this like my job, because it’s not my life. I think it’s easy for a lot of work-from-home parents to fail at balancing work and home life, but it’s important that we remember why we chose this life in the first place.