Off the Tightrope: Losing and Regaining the Balance Between Copywriting and Me

Where do you start when you’re writing a blog post after an almost four-month hiatus? What began as a big copywriting project blossomed (or exploded, depending on how you look at it) into a series of ongoing gigs with multiple clients. Business couldn’t be better—and I still consider freelance copywriting an ideal job for me.

The catch: as business grew, the rest of my life suffered. I thought one month—then six weeks—of non-stop work, including weekends, would be a one-time thing. Yet, it’s very easy to keep it going—or convince yourself it’s what you need to do. I ended 2010 utterly exhausted and burned out.

On top of it all, I didn’t write a single word for my own creative non-fiction project. Not one. After all the work I’d put into developing a writing habit, I let it slip. The one good habit I did start in all of this was regular exercise. Now I can’t imagine managing stress or relaxing without it. 

I’ve always been a goal setter, so I’m using that trait this year to help me simplify. Last year, I had a page-long list of things and numbers I needed to achieve. Now, I have four (in this order): reaching a financial target, finishing a full first draft of my personal writing project, applying to one writing retreat (as well as attending, pending acceptance) and posting one blog piece each month.

With fewer, specific goals, it’s been so much easier to make decisions. As different opportunities and ideas have popped up this month, I’ve considered them against my goals. Last year, I would have piled on. This year, I said no—and it felt good.

One blog post isn’t much, I know, especially compared to the previous three-per-week I was doing. I don’t want to give up blogging all together, but I have about 50K more words to get on the page.

Have you made big changes lately or shifted your priorities? How do you resist hanging on to the items that you need to let go of, at least for now? I’d love to know how you do it.

8 thoughts on “Off the Tightrope: Losing and Regaining the Balance Between Copywriting and Me

  1. Good to know that you got your groove back. It is difficult to find the flow again after a long break but I take it one day at a time.

  2. Hi Jesaka, Just discovered your site via Writer Unboxed. I really identifed with this post. I recently finished my first novel draft – kudos to me – but have struggled to get moving on revisions. I started a blog this month wanting to explore my voice but then spent so much time blogging and visiting other sites that my writing draft hasn’t seen light of day. I’m trying to find some balance myself. I’m thinking about cutting back on posts or not blogging unless I’ve put in some writing time for the day…still working it out.

  3. Great to read fresh characters from you! You’re brave to not only articulate your goals but also the post them. I’m impressed and not at all surprised. Let me know when you HOST a writer’s retreat, I’d love to attend and/or faciliate on the corporate Haiku portion.

  4. Great to see you blogging again, Jesaka! I too struggled with balance, especially in November and December of last year. I had one project that paid well but wasn’t fulfilling me creatively and was holding me back from doing the kinds of projects I really wanted because it required so much of my time. I wanted to keep that one as an anchor client but reduce my workload and the client wasn’t open to that, so we parted ways. Because that client was such a big part of my income, January has been a rebuilding month for me, rather than a money-making month. But I’m hopeful that 2011 has some exciting new projects in store! And I’m glad that I’ve put the stress of that project behind me.

  5. I know exactly how you feel. Just two years ago, I was struggling financially. But this past year, I started working at YourTango, where my responsibilities continue to grow; I wrote an ebook with Ian Kerner (which ended up taking much longer that I originally expected); I started writing a sex column for The Frisky; I launched my coaching practice; etc. So awesome to think back on everything that’s been accomplished! But so exhausting, too. Personal projects (my blog and an ebook) were put on ice. My health suffered (from lack of both sleep and exercise). Work/life balance went completely out of whack.

    It’s actually funny. My next edition of Word Nerd News is about loving yourself more, and about saying no to the things that hold you back from your real goals. In late 2010/early 2011, I started setting more boundaries at work, and turning down lower-paying projects. I stopped feeling guilty about my erratic blogging schedule, and set a new, more realistic, twice-a-week schedule. My sex column was canceled, but I didn’t get too broken up about it. It gave me more time for me.

    Because of this, I was able to say yes to a quasi-regular gig singing funeral masses. I was able to get into yoga, and sign up for a weekly hoop dancing class. I was able to take on another ebook project that really interested me. I was able to relax on the weekends, instead of working through them. I was able to gain more momentum with my coaching practice.

    I feel healthier and happier, and I feel as if the important things are getting done. Good luck to the both of us! Right? 🙂

  6. Happy to see you back. I wondered where you went. In my experience, the balance between creative writing and writing to making a living is tough. When I wrote for others, I never had time to write for myself. Now that I’m doing more creative writing, I want more commercial writing gigs. No such thing as perfection–at least so far. I hope you find the balance for yourself. I wish I could do more exercise. Good for you on that front.

  7. So great to read a post and to hear your three goals. This year I still have my big page o’ goals, but I also have a “filter” by which I’m evaluating everything ELSE that comes my way. It goes like this: Family? Fitness? Writing? Everything needs to fit, and fit appropriately, into one of those filters before it has a chance at getting added to my list. Looking forward to reading at aka each month!

Comments are closed.