Going Off Track…And Getting Back On Again

By Terreece M. Clarke

I love to write. I start or work out article kinks in my head while I lie in bed waiting to fall asleep. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to write, when I’m going to write and where my writing is going to be published. But there is a problem, I write and think about writing and work the business of writing too much.

Writers are always told they need to write all the time and immerse themselves in their craft, and that’s true. But we advice-givers also need to stress the importance of balance. When things get off balance, your writing will suffer.

My life is pretty busy right now, I’m expecting our third baby, am in the middle of graduate school, have my writing career, trying to grow my corporate writing business and somehow maintain a healthy life outside of computers and diapers. As a result I’m forgetting everything. The “write it down, check it twice” mantra?  Gone. Lately it’s been “tell me and I’ll pray I remember.”

When you focus on one thing too closely, you lose sight of the big picture. I got off track and I guarantee you’ll get off track too. It’s part of the writing experience. So what do you do to get back on?

Admit it. No one wants to admit they’ve let things get out of control, but if you are barely making deadlines, your kitchen has a funky stench to it and your kids only sort of remember who you are, you’re out of balance. Likewise, if you’ve gained 10 lbs, your blood pressure is through the roof and you start sucking wind before you reach the top of a flight of stairs – it’s time to admit life is off track.

Embrace it and get over it. It happens to everyone. Things get busy, people lose focus, projects come up that consume every aspect of life – don’t beat yourself up over it, just realize you had one of those cycles and move on.

Get back to basics. Get back to the roots of your work/life. Regular work-outs, scheduled cleaning days, editorial calendars, monthly lunches with friends, etc. Get back to what made your life work well before. Incorporate new items into your basic framework, adjusting as needed. You may want to revisit your goals and make sure they still hold priority.

Watch for slip ups. Getting back on track usually takes about a week or two. Normally, people start with gusto and just when they think they are humming along swimmingly, they let down their guard and those old distractions and bad habits creep back in and start throwing up detour signs. What knocked you off track in the first place? Procrastination? Illness? Paycheck Panic? Over-scheduling? Wintertime Blahs? Whatever the cause, identify it and try to work out a solution or Plan B.

Have you’ve gotten off track? What do you do when it happens to you?





5 responses
  1. Chris Avatar

    Your post has such a great message of not beating yourself up if you get off track. Better to learn from it and move on.

  2. Kathryn Avatar

    It is said to take 21 one days to create a new habit in your life and 42 days to make it second nature. I have discovered that if I do the things I know I’m suppose to be doing then I don’t have time to do the things I shouldn’t be doing (and that get me off track).

    I have three kids as well and I don’t have time to work out – but if I take the dogs for a walk three times a day and clean the house the way it SHOULD be clean then I get a full work out! Add in playing with the kids and I should be an Olympic athlete before I know it.

    Keeping up with my work. If I write when I have the time and focus and then do other things when the house breaks out in chaos then I stay ahead of my deadlines and can relax when I want!

    It’s often the little things that make time management, organization and balance the easiest.

  3. Damaria Senne Avatar

    Nice one Terreece. I’ve been in one of those cycles when a single project takes over most of your life, and everything else suffered as a result. So I’m going back back to basics. THANKS for the reminder.

  4. Maria Taylor-Perry Avatar

    Thank you for your words of encouragement. I am hitting a roadblock right about now and I needed an outside voice to get back some prospective. I’ll be taking your advice.

    1. Noemi Tasarra-Twigg Avatar
      Noemi Tasarra-Twigg

      I hope you’re doing better!

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