The Balancing Act of Life and Writing

One of the things non-writers ask writers (after the inevitable “where do your ideas come from?” to which I invariably answer “my brain, I think, but it could be the devil since I write deeply disturbing stories for small children.”), is how we manage to balance it all.

By “all,” I think they mean writing, book publicity/marketing, day job, housework, kids, family concerns, volunteering, and social life.

The short answer is this: we don’t. Or at least I don’t. If you plan to add something substantially time-consuming like writing a freaking BOOK into your life, you’re going to have to pick something to let go. (I chose housework, television, some of my volunteering, and most of my personal hygiene regimen. The kids are still being taken care of, marginally, but that may change when edits come back for the next novel. Then I may just hand them bows and arrows, sleeping bags, shove them out the door, and tell them it’s time for them to become men. Is nine years old too young for that?)

What they don’t remember to put into that equation is one of the things a writer cannot give up. (And no, I’m not talking about showers: those are optional, and the resulting smell keeps people away, freeing up even more writing time.)

I mean reading. I don’t think a writer can sustain a career unless s/he is reading, constantly, in and out of the genre s/he’s writing.

Me, I’ve been reading a lot recently. I’ve read some amazing middle grade books – truly amazing, as in “I’m going to dedicate some blog posts soon to these books” amazing. (Which books? Okay, I’ll give titles here: Remarkable  by Lizzie Foley, The Chronal Engine by Greg Leitich Smith, and We’ve Got a Job, by Cynthia Levinson. These three books blew me away, all for different reasons, but all in the same week. LOVE them. More later.)

I could go on and on about balance for writers, and I will… this Thursday night, with the Writer’s League of Texas at Bookpeople in Austin.

Please join me and the other panelists (here are the bios), at 7 p.m. for a funny and honest look at how an author balances his/her life. I’ll be on the panel, but folks? I’ll probably be taking notes, too!

Here are the details! See you there!

Posted in Children's Fiction, Miscellaneous on 02/13/2012 10:11 am


  1. You are hugely adorable! I’m so sorry I can’t make it to the event, but I’ve already committed to another one that same night in Round Rock. Another time, to be sure! Your fan, Cyn


  2. I’m definitely planning to be there. Hopefully, that day job thing won’t knock my plans out of balance this week. Don’t forget to give your kids a survival manual. 🙂


  3. I really appreciated your input on the panel last night. It was my first WLT meeting (always too busy with unfun work), after being a member for several years. I turn 40 next year, so I’m especially feeling that urgency to get started now, schedule conflicts and family demands be damned! You shared some great ideas — thanks for being so forthright! (and now I can’t get the word “rue” out of my head – smile)


    • Nikki Loftin

      Denise, I’m so glad you got to come to the WLT panel! And thanks for your kind words – I had fun, and learned from the other panelists, too. WLT is a great group – say hi to me at the next meeting!


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