Author Toolbox Blog Hop: The balancing act

I am the type of writer who would much rather be writing something new rather than editing a project I’ve already started. Even when I know that something isn’t ready for publication, is nowhere near “finished,” I have a hard time sitting myself down to edit. It’s not even that I dread the task of editing—it’s the feeling that I only have so much time, and so I need to be filling that time with writing.

My strategy so far has led to a backlog of projects, with completed drafts but very few finished stories.

There are others who are the opposite way, who find starting something new a difficult task when there’s something else that needs refinement. Either way, writing and editing are never-ending tasks, and it’s important to find a balance between creating new content and putting the finishing touches on a story.

Here’s how I (try to) balance things:

I establish a routine.

The importance of time management and setting up a routine is something I’ve talked about in a previous blog post. But in terms of balancing editing and writing, I try and have designated days or times of day where I’m making the conscious decision to be either editing or writing.

For example, I’m trying to keep my Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays dedicated to editing the short stories I already have drafts of. There are a number of fall submission deadlines and contests coming up, and I want to try and have at least a few stories ready to send out to journals I’ve been keeping up with. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days I allow myself to focus on writing new stories. Setting the designated times to do each task gives me some comfort that I’ll have time to do everything I need to do, and allows me to focus on the task immediately in front of me.

I stick to the plan.

Easier said than done, right? I certainly have had the experience of knowing exactly where a story was going, only to have it take a sudden turn and go in a totally new, but exciting, direction.

But when it comes to these meta-skills of being a writer, I think it’s important to stick to some semblance of a plan as much as possible. Don’t let editing bleed into the time you’ve set aside to write new material. Don’t let brainstorming go on for so long that you never return to an idea you’ve already started. Et cetera.

Of course, if inspiration strikes, it strikes, and I certainly don’t want to fight it too much. But when I’ve veered off the course and am ready to get back into the swing of things…

I get back on whatever horse I’ve fallen off of.

Erika Beebe wrote a fantastic blog post on the topic of getting back into the habit of writing after being away from it for a while. For me, the main takeaway is the re-establishment of a writing routine. Something as simple as revisiting certain times of day when you would write, even if you don’t end up writing during that time, can be a good way to ease into the routine again.

I reward myself with the parts of writing I enjoy the most.

And, like I said, the part I love the most making something new. So if I’ve stuck to the plan, gotten back on the writing horse, and have hammered out a routine that works, I let myself indulge a bit in making something new.

How do you balance different parts of writing? Let me know in the comments!

This post was written as part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop organized by the human dynamo, Raimey Gallant. Every month, authors at all stages of their career blog about specific resources/learning opportunities for fellow writers. To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, click here.

Published by Caroliena Cabada

Caroliena Cabada is a writer currently based in Lincoln, Nebraska. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing, Fiction, from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her writing has been published in online and print journals and anthologies, and has been selected for Best Small Fictions 2021.

14 thoughts on “Author Toolbox Blog Hop: The balancing act

  1. I have a very similar backlog of drafts, although my avoidance is purely because I find the editing process agonizing from beginning to end. And all my drafts are novels… I’ve spent the past few years doing pretty much nothing BUT editing in terms of fiction. To get my creative urges out I’ve also been writing non-fiction.

    Most of my edits also include adding at least one new scene, which also helps. But balance is something I struggle with all the time.

  2. I am incredibly honored Caroliena, thank you for mentioning me. Like you I create better then I edit. Right now I am beginning a new manuscript and I live it so vividly in he beginning I have to put away my edits on a past manuscript until I am deep into the writing process. Once I am comfortable, I really like your suggestion of designating certain days a week. I think I will try that. Have a lovely rest of your week 🙂

  3. I like the idea of allotting specific days to each task. I’ve never tried that. I wonder if it would work for me? Thanks for the great post, Caroliena!

  4. Sticking to the schedule is difficult. I have a day planner (who doesn’t like crossing off completed items?) and I’ll add “Write for one hour” or “Revise for one hour.” If I have a nebulous mental goal of “more writing”, it never happens.
    Thanks for sharing your method. I’ll visit your setting up a routine blog and keep my fingers crossed.

  5. I think I have the most difficult time with keeping my drafting and editing processes separate. I cannot not-edit as I draft. And since every time I start a new day of drafting, I must read the previous scene I had been working on to get my train of thoughts onto track, I end up spending almost as much time editing as I do drafting. Keeping separate days of the week for each task seems like a systematic solution. I think I maybe able to work with that since it would allow me to dip into both activities on a regular basis without usurping on the time allocated to either. Thanks for the idea!

  6. I’m great at making plans but terrible at sticking to them. I need to try and get back into a regular routine and stick to it 🙂
    I got to a point in one work in progress where I was 2/3rds of the way through the story, then I went back to the beginning and started editing! After that two additional plot bunnies derailed me. My work process is chaos.

  7. I’m great at making plans, but find some tasks take a lot longer than I’d planned … which puts me behind on my plan. It’s nice to know that we all have problems, even if they are slightly different problems.

  8. Having a deadline helps me stick to a schedule, even it it’s a self imposed deadline. I love to edit, so I tend to spend more time there than I should.

  9. I know exactly what you mean. I’m struggling with my current WIP and I’m doing tons of other things so I will be too “busy” to work on it. (for example, yesterday I wasted most of the day organizing a planner.)
    Fortunately, I have an awesome CP who won’t leave me alone.

  10. Like Raimey I like the idea of scheduling for days of the week. I also love using your favorite aspects of writing as the reward for doing the parts you dislike.

  11. I do the same thing, because I love writing more that editing. I currently have four manuscripts in various stages of completion. I have committed to making one ready for publication before moving on to the others. I try to do certain things on certain days too.
    Thanks for sharing!

  12. HI Caroliena, thank you for your thoughts. I find balancing to be an ongoing battle too. I can’t focus on more than one story at a time with much success but then I write novels, not short stories. (And I do sometimes let my pen wander). Making sure I have a plan and schedule make a huge difference to me and I find it disconcerting when that schedule gets interrupted.
    Thanks for the ideas and strategies to make my writing life more manageable!

Leave a Reply to M.L. Keller Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.