Most of my writing and illustrating colleagues in the children’s book publishing world have been in this same spot . . . when your work-life balance is temporarily out of whack and weighted far too heavily to one side. Too many deadlines or marketing activities for an upcoming publication, and your work hours take over your free time. (Your family and friends wonder when you will come up for air!) On the flip side, there are times that writing, or illustrating must take a back seat to other commitments. Important activities such as helping family members, unexpected travel, group project commitments (you can’t let others down)—all these things and more can eliminate dedicated time for individual projects. It can be frustrating . . .but I have found ways to keep moving forward by focusing on a few things I can manage to squeeze in when I don’t have either time or the head space to write.
This is a time that I like to go to the library and check out oodles of books in my genre. Even though I may not have the opportunity to write, I can always use a bit of my evenings for browsing and reading to fill my brain with wonderful words and phrases, admire beautiful illustrations, study interesting narratives, and meander through fabulous stories. Plan to stop by your favorite indie bookstore, or locate your library card and head over to the stacks for an afternoon of searching for useful selections!
During this lull in my writing efforts, I found time to squeeze in a trip to a museum to see exhibits. The beautiful aluminum and copper wire art installation pictured above captured my attention at Atlanta’s High Museum. Ghanaian artist El Anatsui formed this beautiful textile from discarded bits of aluminum taken from the necks and tops of liquor bottles. His art celebrates the tradition of West-African strip woven cloth. Wow—what an incredible metal-cloth sculpture! It was a joy to behold. So, get out—fill yourself up with an afternoon at a museum, take a morning walk at a local park, or taste something from a new food truck in your neighborhood. Inspiration may be lurking where you least expect it.
Even though I don’t have time to sit down at my writing desk . . . I do have time to consider new project ideas and turn them over in my mind. How might I approach this new story idea? What will make my characters or plot unique? What else can I possibly do to learn more about a new nonfiction topic? So, think about it . . . can you jot down some new story ideas or list items that require more research?
I recently signed up for my first “in-person” conference in over two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a few months, I can’t wait to put on my name badge, meet old pals, make new friends, listen to engaging speakers, and revel in all things kidlit! There’s nothing quite like a conference or workshop to keep you on track to submit existing projects for critique and feedback and push you forward. Why not take a look at the events in your region . . . and send in your registration today!
So even though I’m not actively working on a project this month, I’m still making progress. I’m reading, exploring, thinking, and soon I will be connecting, too! And yes, that list of commitments which have overtaken my writing time is being whittled down, one by one. Soon, I’ll be back at my desk diving into a few projects that I can’t wait to work on.
What do YOU do to further your writing / illustrating work when you’re not able to squeeze in dedicated project time? I’d love to hear your thoughts . . . and add your valuable tips to my toolkit! Please post your ideas in the comments section. Thanks for stopping in.
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on Twitter: @Writer_Meyer
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my website: EileenMeyerBooks.com