Monday, February 6, 2017

Moment by Moment

Some things (many things) in life just can’t be helped—controlled, fixed, understood. Sometimes life smacks you into a daze, and it’s all you can do to just move from one day to the next. And that’s okay.

But some days, some times in life, are utterly yours. And it’s up to you whether to mold them into beautiful memories or wasted opportunities. Whether to make the best of the moment or lose it in that void of ever moving Time.

Me, I’m an “all or nothing” type of person. It’s either I’m killing myself getting all the things done at once or completely wasting my life away on Pinterest and cheesy TV shows. And, truthfully, I’m never really happy with either of those types of days.

It’s all about balance.

2015 was a year of doing too much on a constant basis. Of writing and beta-reading and blogging and emailing and keeping up with one thing or another every waking hour. Sure, I was productive, and many things I don’t regret. 2015 was a pretty good year. But by the end of it, when I looked back, I realized my family got left out in the name of “productivity”. Even God was forgotten many days.

As 2016 loomed around the corner, I knew something needed to change. I knew balance was needed. I had no intention of quitting my writing pursuits, but taking a breath every now and again was by no means a bad thing. So 2016 was a year of learning to say “No”. It was a year of giving up beta-reading and not being overly active on social media and spending many, many days watching Doctor Who with my sister.

And that was good. Very good. I still managed to keep up with lots of things, while also saying hi to my family now and again.

But it wasn’t quite the balance I was looking for. Almost, but perhaps not quite.

The problem with me is I’m too hard on myself. If I’m not spending every waking second being productive, I’m bashing myself for it. But then when I do spend hour upon hour on the computer, I’m wracked with guilt for ignoring everything else, not to mentioned creatively drained. And yet there’s still so much I could—should—be doing for my writing. Pursuing publishing is no joke, and there are dozens of things I haven’t even started—working on a query letter, trying to get credentials such as entering contests, writing for magazines, etc., finding literary agents, being more active on social media, attending writers’ conferences, reading more books on the craft. The list goes on and on and on. It’s enough to make me want to hide under my bed and never come out again. It feels as if there aren’t enough hours in a day, enough time in my single life, to accomplish all I want. How am I supposed to accomplish these things without suffocating? Where’s the time for breathing?

And that’s when it occurred to me: That’s up to me.

It would be lovely if we could slow down time, or speed up our productivity. Unfortunately, those things can’t be controlled. But what can be controlled is how we use each moment.

Do I regret those many hours spent last year watching Doctor Who with my sister—laughing and crying and bonding? Absolutely not. Do I regret spending many a day editing Burning Thorns, growing in my craft? Never.

Maybe you’re like me and have in your head that every single second must be spent doing something productive. But what is productivity? Who says writing 5k words a day is more beneficial than watching a movie with your family? Who says spending some time refueling your creativity looking at inspiring pictures on Pinterest is worse than staring at your manuscript forcefully trying to type out just a few…more…words…and getting totally burnt out?

And that’s where we come back to balance.

No, we can’t spend our lives in front of a TV screen. I know on days where I do absolutely nothing productive I start feeling depressed. But, on the flip side, those days I spend far too much time blogging/writing/what-have-you, I’m completely drained by bed time.

So what does that mean for 2017’s plans?

I don’t want to utterly leave my life behind for writing pursuits as I did in 2015, but I also want to make more progress toward it than I did in 2016.

This year, I’m going to make the best of every moment.

This year, I’m going to respect my dream. To face my fears, to take one step at a time, and turn what has so long been seemingly untouchable into something real, tangible.

But, most importantly, this year, I’m not going to feel guilty when I need to take a breath.

Life is a beautiful gift and, yes, it is short. Which means we must enjoy every side of it.

So this year, that’s what I want to do. I know I’ll stumble, I know I’ll lose moments I can never get back. I know I’ll burn myself out some days and be a useless potato on others. But I know I’ll learn. I’m getting closer and closer to learning that balance with each day.

Every moment is precious. And I don’t want to ever take one minute of the limited ones I have on this earth for granted. Whether it’s pursuing my dream or just stopping to notice the shapes of the clouds. I want to soak it in and learn and live and breathe.


Sorry for the brain dump, guys. This post was meant to be something else, but my thoughts poured out, and, well, here we are. But I’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you share this struggle of balancing work and play? What are some things you do to keep from working too hard or wasting too much time? (Seriously, I need tips!)


  1. Yesss. This resonates so deeply with me! <3 *hugs post* I have SUCH a hard time achieving balance, and am very much an all-or-nothing person myself. I'm SO proud of you for trying to figure out what works for you and I wish you the very best in achieving it!! *huggles* I need to try to figure out something of the sort myself. XD To try to get stuff done, I make to-do lists and try to get over my phobia of STARTING, and to try not to work TOO hard I make myself relax at least once a week... but I also fail at both a lot and still haven't figured it out, so I'm afraid I don't have helpful tips... sowwy! But you're inspiring me to try to figure it out myself, so thank you! Love this post! ^_^

    (Also! THOSE PICTURES THOUGH. <3 *pets all the pretty books and flowers*)

    1. *beams* That makes me happy to hear! This post kinda happened on accident. But sometimes it feels so good to just write out your thoughts, which is what happened here.

      BALANCE IS SO HARD. I don't know if I'll ever achieve it (of course, can anyone perfectly achieve balance?), but I do hope to get better anyway.

      I absolutely get you on the having a hard time STARTING thing. Thus the reason I haven't even begun the first bit of Burning Thorn's second round of edits... But to-do lists are one of the most motivating things for me! BUT. They also sometimes push me too hard because then I feel like I have to check everything off all at once. So...I think I'm gonna add "relax some" to my to-do lists and trick my brain. XD

      But, Celtiii. You actually HAVE helped me with your habits of taking a full day off each week and stuff. You're always an inspiration to me. *huggles*

      (MEEP. Thank you!!! This whole comment just made me smile. <3)

  2. OhMyWord, CHRISTINE!!!!! This post was SOOOOO HELPFUL. AND WHAT YOU SAID AT THE END ' Every moment is precious. And I don’t want to ever take one minute of the limited ones I have on this earth for granted. Whether it’s pursuing my dream or just stopping to notice the shapes of the clouds, I want to soak it in and learn and live and breathe.' =O LIKE I HAVE NO WORDS. Seriously, Christine. THAT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL. <3
    I am SO GLAD YOU POSTED YOUR THOUGHTS. You should do posts like this more often, they're so encouraging.=) <3

    Have a very blessed day!
    Jaidyn Elise

    1. Now *I* have no words!!! I'm just sitting here beaming at your comment, wondering how on earth to express how happy it made me. I AM having a blessed day because of you and your precious comment. <3

      I would actually love to do more posts like this! This is what happens when I just start typing out my thoughts and...I rather like doing that on occasion. It's very freeing! So maybe we'll get more Christine brain dumps in the future. XD

  3. I'm an INTP, so procrastination is practically my middle name. . . and in many things besides writing I struggle with sloth. It's so much more fun, often, to *have done* things rather than to *do* them, especially on really busy days where you feel like you don't have time to think about what you're doing (note to all and sundry: take. time. to. think. It saves you a lot of trouble and heartache in the end when you're not frantically ripping things out because you were in too much of a hurry. Believe me), or those days when you hate the sound and shape of words but you have an essay, a poem, and a story to write. I've had to learn through hard experience that leaving things for later only compounds the stress later on. It's not worth it. Do the work right away and then later you have time to breathe --- this applies to work with deadlines, like schoolwork.
    When you don't have a deadline, but you know you should be working, but you're sick, or you haven't spent time with family in a while and they're demanding your presence and --- what's harder --- attention, or that kind of thing, it's okay to take a day off. You might come back with a mind that's rested and willing to consider words again.
    I have a really busy school schedule this semester, and Friday and Saturday I pretty much shut myself up to do school all day --- and school is almost synonymous with some form of writing these days. I was exhausted and physically in bad shape by the end of it. But yesterday we were of course at church all day, and we had Communion in the afternoon, so it was a service all to itself. This made not only for a long day at church, but a refreshing one where not only was it impossible for me to write, so I had a forced break, but where all the elements of worship are engaging not only the mind but the heart. It was tiring and I slept in the car on the way home, but last night I slept well and this morning I was ready to tackle my work again. And with an hour to commute to school, an hour of tutoring, and three classes to look forward to in the day, that's important. Except --- providentially --- my last class for the day was cancelled, so I have an extra hour in which to do things. Ordinarily, though, about now I'd be in class bemoaning all the things I should have done.
    I don't really have tips on how to win the fight, though. . . normally I come up with something different for different situations and find my way through it as I go. I will say that if it's at all possible, do keep abreast of the work. That's one of the hard but effective ways to keep from getting swamped, though life tends to swamp you anyway.
    On which note i'm off to try catching up on the book I'm editing, because it has a release date (I think) of the end of this month, and it's February already, and the very name has a connotation of the shortage of time.

    1. Ah, procrastination. The writer's enemy, and yet our biggest tendency. I agree, "having done" is sooooo much more satisfying and fun than "doing". Which is often why I work myself to death so I can be done with everything. And, it's much less stressful than having everything weighing over you, like you said. I really can't relax when I have a giant to-do pile. But, on the flip side, I tend to do too much at once and wear myself out. I think I need to learn to be okay with having work to do and letting it rest for a bit. So yes, I guess, again, it's all about finding that balance. And, as you pointed out, what stage in life you're in. If you don't have deadlines hanging over you, do rest. But don't procrastinate if there IS a deadline. That'll only up the stress. *nods*

      That's wonderful you got to relax and refuel yesterday. I totally get that! I actually tend to get more refueled when I'm NOT at home because I CAN'T write. When I'm at home, I can't always relax, because there's always SOMETHING that needs to be done, or something I COULD be doing. I honestly get my best rest at work, because I'm sitting in a quiet bookshop, but I can't write or anything, so I can just relax and see people and refuel.

      I love all your thoughts on this. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy life to chat with me. ^_^ And the best of luck to you getting everything done!

  4. CHRISTINE SMITH. It was like this post has been written for me, because I feel like I've been struggling with this ever since high-school started.
    But I also have been trying to put everything into it's proper place...and here is what has helped.
    J. O. Y.
    e t o
    s h u
    u e
    s r

    It's a nice little quote to put on your wall, but girl? IT WORKS IN REAL LIFE. For example, the beginning of my schedule goes like this: read devotional and memorize verses (JESUS), work on a video I could do with my brother (OTHERS), then get some math done (MYSELF). It helps me organize my day and put my priorities where they should be.
    I do slip up. All the time. There were multiple times when I thought I had too much time on the weekends and too little on the week days. (DOES ANYONE RELATE? xD)
    But keep pressing on, you awesome human bean! We're going to do this thing together. *fist bump*

    1. J.O.Y.--Jesus, Others, You. OH MY GOODNESS, ARIEL. THAT IS SPECTACULAR. I MUST remember this. What a wonderful thing to live by! And something I need! I'm the worst at keeping good priorities. I think I tend to put me before anyone else, which is probably why I often feel so stressed and weighed down.

      This is wonderful. Thank you so much, Ariel. You are a blessing!!! We ARE going to get this. *fist bumps back*

  5. This post though. I don't know what to say. I almost want to flail but I don't even feel like doing that? I just feel at peace, honestly. Christine - this is amazing. Thank you. <3

    1. Well, Jane, now I don't know what to say. This is honest to goodness one of the sweetest comments I've ever received. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading my rambly thoughts. *huggles*

  6. "Life is a beautiful gift and, yes, it is short. Which means we must enjoy every side of it." Very good point! It can be tricky to have that balance, though, as I know all too well.

    1. Awww, thanks! It IS so very tricky! I seem to be on a never ending quest to find that balance. Haha.

  7. This was such a beautiful post, Christine! I, too, struggle with finding the balance in life. And this post is just so...soothing?

    1. Awwww, girl! That is the nicest thing. I'm so happy you liked it (I was worried I was just talking nonsense, lol). I don't know why, but balance is SUCH a hard thing! Maybe one day we'll figure it out!

  8. CHRISTINEEEE. Ugh. Your words are so beautiful and true. I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I want to do so many things, but I also want to make sure that writing isn't all I do with my day. I want to spend time with family and friends and God and work and school and eek.

    "We must enjoy every side of it." <- I LOVE THIS. I've been learning to "love the process" of life and doing things.

    This is so lovely. *aggressively loves this post* <3

    1. WELP. KATIE. I don't even know how to respond to this. I'M SO HAPPY YOU LIKED IT. I was worried I was just rambling and throwing nonsense out. Haha. This is what happens when I let my thoughts loose on the page.

      BUT MEEP. Your comment makes me happy! And I agree with you 100%. Writing is SUCH an important part of my life, buuut I do need to remember that there are other parts of life, too. Heh.

  9. "We must enjoy every side of it." --That's a great way to put it, Christine! Not every hour has to be super productive. Watching TV with friends or family can, in a bonding way, be productive. And when we spend hours working on a project that amounts to nothing, the time wasn't really a waste because you learned from the experience of it. That's something I've been realizing this past year.

    Also, I couldn't help but hum the hymn Moment by Moment while reading this!
    I'm still figuring out the writer life vs off-writer life, trying to balance between doing what I love and also having time for family and friends. I hope we can both find the balance this year. *HUGs*

    1. You put it perfectly! I like how you said watching TV with friends and family can be productive "in a bonding way". YES. Exactly the point I was trying to make. I think time spent with the people you love is never wasted time.
      And so much yes to your other point as well! I've spent maaaany hours on stories I'm never going to do anything with. But I didn't waste those hours at all. I learned from them and grew in my craft!

      OH. I didn't even think about the hymn when I titled this. :O A happy accident!
      Me too, girl, me too! It's such a hard thing to balance. But I think we just need to take it a day at a time and try not to be TOO hard on ourselves. *hugs back*

  10. CHRISTINE!!! I feel like you read my mind, dear! Especially what ypou said about, like, KNOWING that you SHOULD be doing all this STUFF... Reading books about writing and figuring out how to write that darn query letter and getting an agent and like MAYBE ALSO WRITING EVERY NOW AND THEN???? And somehow you just don't have the energy... In fact just thinking about it all makes me tired and despairing because how the heck am I ever supposed to get all that done???? It doesn't help that I am VERRRY all-or-nothing? Which is stupid because SOMETHING is better than nothing at all... And lately it seems like I'm just too tired...

    Man! This is just so hard! We writers... WE GOT IT TOUGH, FRIEND. Sometimes I think everyone (including us) thinks that #writerslife is all about inspiration hitting you at 2am and surviving on coffee and having imaginary friends and creepy browser search histories. And sometimes it IS that and it's awesomes and fun. But there's also a healthy dose of, "I think I might possibly be crazy for even attempting this and my life is currently a train wreck." :)

    Anyway. I'm rambling. But I wanted to say thank you. Because I can relate to this and I agree. We all need to give ourselves permission to live a "normal," non-writerly life every once in a while. Permission to be lazy and procrastinate and not write and do relationships and family time and movie nights.

    Okay, I am done now, I promise. :) *steps off soapbox* *hugs you hard*

    1. Yes, yes, yes to all of this! I know all too well that tired and despairing feeling when I think about allllll the things that goes into being a writer. It really is not a glamorous life all the time, no. WE DO HAVE IT TOUGH. The amount of brain work, mental energy, and TIME to actually make it as a writer is one of the most stressful, time-consuming jobs out there. Like you said, many think it's just a carefree, fun life. And yes, I LOVE the life of a writer. But man, it's tiring sometimes. o.o

      I think the best way to handle it is to just take a day at a time. To look at one task individually instead of everything is one big picture. That helps me a lot. I can think, "Okay, today I'm going to write a blog post and edit a page." And then there, that's done. Then the next day I can focus on the next task. It makes it way less overwhelming that way! But, again, we still need time to just LIVE.

      "We all need to give ourselves permission to live a "normal," non-writerly life every once in a while." YES. EXACTLY. The writing life is great, but there's still other aspects of life that need attention.

      I LOVED your comment, and it makes me so happy my post was relatable. Keep taking it a day at a time. You absolutely have this! *hugs back*

    2. One day at a time. So true. :) Love ya, girl!

  11. Balance is tough for me too. I often want to work myself into the ground or just be completely lazy. I'm trying to find a balance this year too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. YES. Me too! "Work myself to the ground or be completely lazy." 100% me. Like, why can't we just do a little of both??? Ah, us humans. XD

      I do so hope you'll be able to find some balance. I'm always so in awe at all you manage to get done! Like, seriously, I don't know how you manage it. But I do hope you let yourself breathe now and again. <3

  12. Christine, this was a PERFECT reminder, especially during this busy season I'm in! I, too, feel the need to be constantly productive. I'm learning when (and how) to say no. Something my mom has been reminding me lately is, "Only you can take care of you."

    I also love how you talked about redefining productivity! It's time we realize the benefit of breaks, of family time and friendships, of so-called time wasters like Pinterest or movies/shows. Of course there should be a balance, but I need to stop thinking that a day spent on those things was a waste.

    *hugs* I know I'm late in saying it, but this was a beautiful, beautiful post!!!

    1. Awwww, I'm so glad! It's something I've been pretty much reminding myself on a daily basis this year. XD But I, too, am learning that elusive word "no". It's not easy, but it's totally necessary sometimes. Oooh, I love what your mom said. THAT IS SO TRUE! I think I needed to hear that. Because I don't think I do a great job taking care of me. XD

      YES. That's a BIG thing I'm trying to learn. As you said, there has to be balance, but I should not beat myself up if I choose to watch a movie with the family instead of writing that next blog post, editing that next page, etc. Each chapter in our life is precious and fleeting, and we need to soak up every bit of our days.

      *hugs back* Thank you so much, Tracey! <3


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