Balance Isn’t Easy

~ By Jennifer Fusco

I wanted to take the opportunity to thank Melina Kantor for asking me to guest blog on the RWA Chick Lit Chapter Blog.  How cool!  Thanks for having me.  Usually when I guest blog, people want me to talk marketing, either they’ve read my series, Market or Die: Marketing Advice for Writers, heard me speak at RWA National, know I’m Eric Ruben’s client that writes paranormal romance or know me as the President of CTRWA. Since I’ve started writing a monthly column titled, “Marketing Insider” for the RWR I get a lot of requests, but this one was different. Melina wanted to know about me…Me?

Her question, “With a full time job (I’m the Creative and Brand Manager for the General Electric Company) and a four year old, how do you find time to write?”

I fell silent, not really knowing how to answer.  Unlike most writers, I don’t have a daily word count, and I can’t write every day.  I’m not a poster girl for balance or a candidate for Mother of the Year. Like most working moms I know, my life is very, very busy. Knowing that every working mom has secrets to getting it all done…here are a few of mine.

The balance of work, writing and motherhood isn’t easy. I have help, lots of it.  I have a great husband who carries more than his share of the parenting duties; he’s extremely supportive of my writing and he’s my webmaster extraordinaire.  Every writer should be so lucky to have a guy like him.

I segment my time.  Writing time, in my life has its place, like everything else.  I know on certain days of the week how much time I can devote to writing…sometimes it’s as many as four hours. Sometimes, it’s none. It’s quality, not quantity in my opinion.

When I’m not writing I think about my stories, a scene or something I need to go back and fix.  My writing will wake me up during the night sometimes, I try not to forget what it tells me by morning.

I sneak in writing time when I can. At work, lunch time is my time.  Many days you’ll find me in a conference room with the door closed from 12-1, gnawing on a sandwich and writing away.

I’m selfish.  There’ve been times when I’ve taken a vacation day from work and hit the library and stayed there all day writing.

I write at night after my son has gone to bed.  There’s really nothing much on TV anyway, right?

I write on weekends in between family obligations and household chores. Like right now, writing this article, my husband is watching the NFL while my son plays with his dump trucks on the couch.

To me, time is currency and, like money, it shouldn’t be wasted. If I find any extra time in my day, I’ll put it to good use. I’ll write, even if it’s just a sentence.

I’ve written in the car (not while driving, of course).  My husband and I work at the same company, so I’ll bring my netbook in the car with us and off we go.

I can tell you about all the things I don’t get to do like go to the movies, do yoga, go out regularly with girlfriends, attend mommy & me classes.  I can’t cook or bake.  I don’t do Tupperware parties or play Words with Friends.  I can’t because if there’s a spare moment…I’m writing.   I have to.

Writing makes me a better wife, a better mother and a better person because writing makes me happy.  It’s something only writers understand.

I’ve read articles and blogs on how to increase word count, minimize distractions, write faster and all sorts of tricks to the craft and out of all of those, here’s what I’ve taken away:  Do the best you can. Give it 100%, every time you sit down to write no matter if its 5 words or 5000 words. On the days the words don’t come…don’t force it. Sometimes a change of pace or a walk with the dog is just what the writing gods demand. Pay them, happily.  There’s no magic formula or secret that will get you where you want to go in this industry…there’s just you and a blank screen.

There are 24 hours in a day…make the most of them.

Jennifer Fusco is the Creative and Brand Manager for the General Electric Company, North America and the author of the series, MARKET OR DIE, marketing books for writers.

A two time winner of the Advertising Excellence Award for 2010, Jennifer has launched successful national print and digital ad campaigns. Currently, she is a member of the (ANA) Association of National Advertisers and believes brand building is a key to professional success.

Due to the overwhelming response Market or Die received from writers, Ms. Fusco launched a website, newsletter and blog designed to educate writers of all genres. 

In her writing life, Ms. Fusco is a member of RWA’s PRO network and serves as the President of the Connecticut Romance Writers.  She has completed two paranormal romance manuscripts and is a monthly contributor to the Romance Writers of America’s RWR Report.

Born in North Carolina, Jennifer currently lives in Connecticut with her husband and young son.


14 thoughts on “Balance Isn’t Easy”

  1. I have heard Jennifer referred to as an android 🙂 Super advice, as always, and it’s nice to have a glimpse into how someone as incredibly talented and focused as Jennifer gets it all (or most of it, anyway!) done.

  2. Hi Jen, I know you are Super Woman … the old adage works “ask a busy person to do something, they will get it done.” It is tough to write everyday, or even write at all at this time of your life, work, husband, kid, author, president, HA! Congratulations on your accomplishments. Eventually you will even have time to smell the roses, but I have a feeling you love it, and will always find another piece to play with. Life is grand!!! And oh, those wonderful surprises.

  3. Hi Jen,
    You are the busiest person I know and I often wondered how you kept everything straight. You make it seem easy sometimes.I think you’re pretty bad@$$.

  4. PJ Schott, PJ Sharon, Gerri and Gail: Thanks for stopping by! I really appreciate it.

    Rhonda- There’s no magic reset to the brain. There’s more of a feeling like, I’ve got 45 free minutes, hurry, finish that scene!! I think it falls under panic, obviously.

    Jeff – I’ve got a few shows I watch religiously. Hell On Wheels, Two Broke Girls and The Closer, just to name a few. Luckly TV repeats a lot of episode so, if I’ve seen it, I’ve got not guilt about turning it off.

  5. Excellent column, Jennifer.
    Lots of great advice too, like ‘don’t force it’.
    My own situation is rather different than yours, in many respects. But I still have the need to ‘segment’ — or ‘allocate’, as I phrase it.
    One thing’s for sure: I had to (mostly) give up television. I used to be addicted and would easily spend 5-6 hours per evening in front of the tube. So, when I retired and relocated, I made myself a ‘vow’ that I wouldn’t turn on the TV at all. Sometimes, I’ll stop and watch something my wife has on. But I rarely turn it on … and haven’t for about 6 yrs. I watch a few games, a few movies, and very selective TV series shows. But if I got hooked on TV again, I’d never write a word. As it is, I’ve completed 7 novel ms. since Aug. of 2006.

  6. Wonderful article Jennifer! I always find tips for balancing family/work/life by those who manage it successfully very useful. Your honesty about not being a poster girl for anything is so refreshing!! Hope to “see” more of you on this site!

  7. Hi Jennifer, great ideas on how to find more time for our writing. Once upon a time, I “thought” I was a master juggle (navy wife, mom of 3, working full-time) and then I added writing to my list and now chapter duties. I’m quickly learning how to re-balance all the aspects of my life. It’s not easy, there’s guilt involved, but my family is very supportive of my dreams and goals. For now I’ll swallow the guilt for missing a sports practice and my house won’t be as clean as it should be. But in the end, when your 13 year-old says they are proud of you, it’s all worth the struggle.

  8. Hi Jennifer,
    Thank you for sharing. It’s great to hear I’m not the only one trying to juggle time and it’s refreshing to realize that sometimes we just can’t do it all. And that it’s ok. Now if you could just clue me in on how to stop feeling guilty about not writing, that would be great. I love your Marketing or Die series and blog. Can’t wait for the new release!

  9. Thanks Jennifer for these inspiring and motivating words! It’s easy to forget that we all have the same number of hours in a day, it’s how we choose to use them that makes the difference!

  10. Aha! I knew you were human. Seriously, Jennifer, that’s great advice. I especially like what you said about quality being more important than quantity. I don’t like committing myself to a specific word count either. With marketing duties and revisions on the next book, writing something new is just not possible, or at least not probable. Why set myself up for failure? If I can carve out a few hours to give my muse some much needed loving’, all the better, but trying to force myself to meet an arbitrary goal is too frustrating.I’m all for doing the best I can and most days that’s pretty darn stellar.

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