Today's post is from alum Araceli Esparza* and talks about one of the biggest issues that an author can face, setting boundaries and learning to say "no." Araceli also provides a great quote from another Hamline alum, Jennifer Mazi, and some life boundary exercises.
As writers, we are presented with many options and opportunities to give to a project by using our writing, like even writing for a blog! One way to give the very best of yourself to your writing is by setting boundaries.
Boundaries can help us trim down these options/invitation in to suggestions, and not into obligations that choke our time to write, our time to have for ourselves, and our families.
Writing, teaching, and sharing are all parts of being a writer. When we begin setting boundaries for our writing life, we add value to it, regardless of whether we are published or not.
Our boundaries help us structure and honor our craft, our profession and our choice to read or write. Setting boundaries is a muscle--use it and the stronger it gets.
Having boundaries doesn’t mean you have to close-off your relationships, it means that you can begin to select meaningful
Beginning with ourselves, writers must communicate in our own voice
style what it is that we want or desire. Building boundaries is a first
step to getting to know your voice.
I asked fellow alum Jennifer Mazi to share with us her experience with writing as a mother and finding balance, boundaries, and time for her writing:
"I used to say yes to everything because I believed, by telling the universe that I was open for business, more opportunities would come my way, which would lead to wild success, that everything would happen in easy ways because of my awesome positivity.
That kind of naiveté makes me tired even typing about it. Consider me yessed out, which is worse than stressed out. My new strategy is to structure my life around the writing in order to protect my own bandwidth and my family.
This means I say NO a lot more, and to more people. This leaves me with enough energy to bring my best to both my writing and my kiddos, because if I do right by them, there is a good chance my best will be enough to reach other kiddos one day.
That’s the dream, anyway."
That’s all of our dreams. Each of us have a similar story/dream, whether it's to be published or just nail it.
After publication, most authors never let that comfort level go to high. I have found from talking with other authors and writers, that it’s important to stay hungry. Making space for our writing is a constant battle.
Remember that on the side of pre-publication:
You can take a break from trying to get published and enjoy the freedom that you can write whatever the heck you want to, and you can submit it where ever the heck you want to.
- You can explore whatever genre, hybrid, heck invent a new meter.
- Ask for space for yourself.
- Visualize the word rejection and blow it up.
- Paint. Draw. You are an artist. Collage. Redecorate. You are an artist.
- Instead of giving we need to take. Sometimes.
- Writing is giving, and as women, mothers, men, partners, etc. we give so much.
- Ask for quiet time from your family.
- Get some healing rocks.
- Spend quiet time at church.
- Ask for a room with no TV and cut off your laptop from wifi when you are on vacation.
- Write like no one will see this!
Write out your writing life boundaries in these three sentences with 3 variations:
People may not ______________________________
I have the right to ask for ______________________________
To protect my time and energy, it’s okay to ___________________
Thanks Araceli for saying yes to the Storyteller's Inkpot and deciding that this WAS worth your time and energy. We appreciate it immensly and hope that your advice will be equally helpful for others.
*Araceli Esparza is a poet, budding bilingual/bicultural picture book author, and diversity in children's literature advocate. An alum of Hamline University's MFAC program, she enjoys blogging about the writers life, her journey to publication, and writing latino children's books.