Sometimes you have the luxury of staring at a blank page. An endless desert of time stretches before you but you can’t think of a single useful thing to say.
For the creative entrepreneur, the opposite is often true: so many ideas, so little time.
Business owning parents in particular know this uncomfortable phenomenon during school breaks - those trying periods when life stops for the kids but everyone else in the professional world is still pushing full speed ahead.
I’m writing this on a coffee table on Cape Cod, relying on the patience of grandparents who’ll play one more game of Candy Land while mama just finishes another paragraph.
The Entrepreneur’s Survival Tools: Writing. Balance. Reciprocity. Self Care.
It’s in the mix of these powerful, sustaining habits that I’ve found my way through this week of delightful disruption and business as unusual.
Writing, balance, reciprocity, and self care overlap and feed one another. I believe that if you honor each in their turn, you have a fighting chance of meeting the end of each day with a sense of “I am enough.”
You’ll only sustain the practice and imbue your words with meaning if you’re motivated by something deeper than the dictates of the editorial calendar and the need to churn out one more blog post.
Writing is an opportunity for personal and professional growth. The practice will support you when the world seems to be falling apart due to personal crisis - or simply because the children are hanging about, using the dreaded “b” word. (Is “bored” a four letter word to you too?)
For me, writing is a refuge.
If I didn’t have my writing deadlines, would I carve out any time for myself? Between the great processions to the beach (dressing for the wind takes more time than we actually spend by the water) and the endless task of keeping the toys off my folks’ stairs, it seems impossible even on "vacation."
Truth is, I almost always need “work” as an excuse to step away from my parenting responsibilities. I value self care, but often as an unattainable grail.
The goal is to practice self care rather than just celebrate it. I'm still a work in progress in the implementation, but I am great at the research. That’s why I’ve been immersing myself in Koren Motekaitis’s series of podcasts with Jen Louden. I highly recommended a binge listen if you’ve got some long distance driving coming up!
For a quick dose of Jen’s medicine, watch this video on the self care paradox. I love how she describes the need to cultivate a relationship between “savoring and service.”
Because really, as important as the writing and all the other work commitments are, this is a special moment in your family’s life - or it could be. And taking care of work at the cost of your happiness as a mom means you're breaking a fundamental rule of self care.
We still reminisce about that April vacation in Washington DC in 1987. There’s no way my daughter will remember “the spring break mom sat at the computer” since that looks a lot like every other week of her life.
Balance & Reciprocity
Many say that work-life balance is a myth. If your expectation is that you’ll give exactly the same amount of time and energy to business and family and that this will keep everyone happy, it is a myth.
But the goal isn’t making everything 50/50 all the time. The goal is to give and receive in equal measure across the entire continuum of your life.
Lany Sullivan and I explore what reciprocity can really mean in your life and work in a recent Reach Connec Uplift Women interview. So much more than “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” transactions, it is about relationships and self care and connecting based on mutual recognition of worth.
During that conversation we also refer to “ayni,” the Andean concept of sacred reciprocity. Eleanora Amendolara describes ayni in depth so you can embody this profound sense of equilibrium - internally, in relationships, and with the earth itself.
Good Medicine: Writing, Self Care, Reciprocity... and Support
My stepmom kindly recommended I take off my coat and get some work done while she took the kids for a walk.
Clearly I was exuding deadline stress, and I risked infecting everyone around me.
How could I be surprised that I couldn't get clear on my writing and I felt choked with "bad mom" guilt? I wasn't asking for the dedicated creative time I needed and so I was spreading myself too thin as I tried (and failed) to dot it all.
I felt like a fraud, offering advice from and “I’ve got this” pulpit when I was actually just being a terrible, distracted house guest with a couple of needy dependents.
Gratefully, I took that gift of thirty minutes free of mom responsibilities to check back in with my real message, my lived experience, my own imbalance.
I think I found a story worth telling and I drafted a new container to tell it. And then I discovered the space to walk to the beach with my girls - twice.
3 Ways to Honor Your Writing Commitments & Other Deadlines During Times of Delightful Disruption (The Practical Guide)
- Take the pressure off by featuring a guest post on your blog I’m honored to feature Karen Brody’s Exhaustion: It’s Time to Tell a New Story this week.
- Go back to the well: rework and repurpose past posts Because I’ve written posts on reciprocity and self care recently, I worried about insulting you with rehashes of the same topics. Thing is, I didn’t remember exactly what I had written, so how could you? In writing this today I realized how writing, balance, reciprocity, and self care are my signature topics and these explorations are just the beginning. What can you learn about your own work by examining and amplifying material from your archives?
- Keep it simple: think in lists, not in prose This is “do as I say, not as I do” advice today. What was meant to be a quick list of how to keep writing even with kids underfoot ended up becoming much more personal and involved than I had expected. But, if you can enter your next disrupted work week with a perspective on how you’ll integrate writing, self care, balance, and reciprocity, maybe you’ll be able to give yourself permission to write something quick, dirty, and helpful to your readers. After all - if you’re busy with kids underfoot, isn’t there a good chance they’re in the same boat and are also short on reading time?
Bonus Tip for Honoring Your Writing Commitments
Call on your writing coach for extra support. As a writing coach, I’m not a ghost writer who’ll put together a post for you, but I can help you plan your editorial calendar so you’re not working during your vacation. I can also help you implement the ideas in this post so you can develop a writing practice that truly serves you and your business.