The Part-Time Fiction Writer’s Juggling Act – Part 2

Fence representing a writer's limits

Accept your limits

Here’s a continuation of my thoughts on finding balance for the part-time fiction writer.

The limit of one

Look carefully at yourself in the mirror. How many people do you see? I’m guessing one. That’s the one person you have to count on for getting all your obligations fulfilled. That probably means that, unless you have very few things to juggle or are Superman, there are going to be days when you’re going to have to let the writing go.

Not writing on a day you had hoped to hurts. You’ve got that peculiar writing energy all ready to go and then—bam—you have to put the brakes on. To me, it feels like preventing myself from sneezing when I have bad hay fever. If you let it, this feeling will drive you nuts.

When this happens, first remember your priorities. Next, remember that image in the mirror. You are just one person and you can only do so much. Accept that limitation and you’ll feel a lot better. You’ll also have more energy to devote to your fiction the next day, since you won’t have squandered it on anxiety.

The limit of gifts

When I was young, some well-intentioned older person told me “you can be anything you want to be.” I thought the proposition sounded fantastical at the time, and experience proved me to be right.

The fact is, you can’t be anything you want. I am a man of average height and weight, below-average coordination (way below), and a natural bent for things like reading. There was never any chance I could be a pro basketball player.

The fact of limitations extends to writing. You can’t be any kind of writer you want. (Well, you can be, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be any good at it.) For example, I don’t have much of a gift for short fiction. I have tried it, but my mind doesn’t work that way. I am not clever enough to figure out twisty endings and not patient enough to polish a tiny gem of a plot until it sparkles.

On the other hand, once I started writing a novel, I felt like I was home. A novel gives you a broad field and a long time in which to play (although I suppose you could write a novel that takes place in a closet, in a minute). I can handle a novel. I can also handle non-fiction of up to a couple of hundred words, but I am not particularly fond of it, so I don’t do it much, except in this blog, where I can ramble on about fiction writing. Again, my mind just doesn’t work that way – it’s much happier dreaming stuff up.

Dismay not!

Don’t be dismayed because you have one limit or the other. Be happy! Your limits give you a clearly defined playing field. They show you what you’re best at. Take that best thing and run with it. You’ll be brilliant!

If you liked this post, please check out the related ones:
The Part-Time Fiction Writer’s Juggling Act – Part 1

6 Replies to “The Part-Time Fiction Writer’s Juggling Act – Part 2”

  1. “Your limits give you a defined playing field.” I love that! We can absolutely romp on our own playing field, can’t we! Still, it’s fun to run out of bounds, sometimes, to venture afar and see just what we can accomplish “over there.” Nice post!

    1. Hi, Rhonda. I’m so glad you liked the post. I agree with you about running out of bounds. Limits don’t just define your playing field, they give you something to push beyond, or even leap over. Thanks for a great observation!

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