“Where do you find the time to do all of the things you do?” I get asked this question often, and it’s a valid one. My life is a whirlwind of responsibilities – a demanding medical career, the intense world of writing, and the personal moments that make life worth living. To understand how I navigate this intricate dance, we need to rewind to my childhood and explore the concept of perfectionism.
The Shadows of Childhood
My childhood was far from idyllic. It was marked by moments of happiness, but the predominant emotion was fear. I lived in the shadow of a father who was, in essence, an ogre. Childhood traumas can cast long shadows, and one of the outcomes was a tendency towards perfectionism.
Perfectionism, as I’ve come to learn, is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it drove me to excel in my medical career and to craft my writing with meticulous precision. On the other hand, it’s a constant companion, pushing me relentlessly to meet impossibly high standards.
As a perfectionist, I’ve spent a significant part of my life battling my inner critic. This inner voice is relentless, constantly reminding me that perfection is an elusive goal. It’s a battle that many writers can relate to because, in the world of literature, criticism can be harsh.
For someone like me, who tends to lean towards perfectionism, a single critique can feel like a personal attack. It can send me spiralling into self-doubt and isolation, making it difficult to write for weeks. But I’ve learned to tame this beast, and it starts with a simple yet powerful tool – scheduling.
The Power of Scheduling
Scheduling might sound like a mundane solution to a complex problem, but it’s been my saving grace. In a life where every minute counts, scheduling is my compass. It ensures there’s no room for idle thoughts or the relentless inner critic.
I adhere to a rigid schedule, out of necessity. My days are dominated by my work as a medical professional, which consumes a significant chunk of my waking hours. But it’s precisely because of this that I must be meticulous in my approach.
For me, balancing my medical career and writing is akin to performing a delicate surgical procedure. The key is maintaining continuity in my writing while excelling in my medical profession. Here’s how I do it:
1. Prioritisation: In the midst of life’s hustle and bustle, I’ve come to recognise that writing is more than a mere hobby; it’s a profound passion and a calling that courses through my very being. This realisation has led me to elevate its importance in my life, creating a dedicated space for it in my daily schedule.
Writing, to me, is not just about arranging words on a page. It’s a profound form of self-expression, a journey into the depths of my thoughts and emotions. Through writing, I paint vivid pictures of my inner world, weaving narratives that not only reflect my experiences but also resonate with readers. This recognition has transformed writing from a casual pastime into a soulful exploration of creativity and self-discovery.
By prioritising writing, I’m not just setting aside time for a hobby; I’m honouring the unique creative voice that resides within each of us. It’s an acknowledgment that creativity is not a frivolous pursuit but an integral part of our identity, deserving of our time and attention.
Writing, in this sense, becomes a calling—a commitment to nurture and cultivate this craft, allowing it to flourish and evolve. Whether I’m crafting intricate plot-lines, delving into the minds of my characters, or exploring the human condition through storytelling, it’s a journey that I’ve chosen to prioritise in the tapestry of my life.
2. Time Blocking: I allocate specific time blocks for writing, just as I do for surgery. This dedicated time ensures that my writing remains a consistent part of my life.
3. Setting Goals: In my intricate balancing act between my demanding medical career and my writing passion, setting goals has proven invaluable. These goals, tailored for each writing session, provide focus and a profound sense of accomplishment.
Setting writing goals is a deliberate act, recognising that writing is a concrete journey with defined milestones. These goals, whether word counts, chapters, or scenes, are realistic and attainable within the allocated time.
They serve as a compass, directing my creative energies and preventing distractions. Achieving these goals signifies progress amidst life’s chaos, nurturing my writing one step at a time.
In this balancing act, writing goals are threads that weave inspiration and dedication, building blocks towards a finished manuscript. They exemplify the power of intention and perseverance in pursuing a passion.
4. Embracing Imperfection: Embracing imperfection in writing is an evolving journey that I’ve come to value deeply. It’s a concept intertwined with the essence of creativity, learned through experience.
At its core, it challenges the relentless pursuit of perfection. It’s an acknowledgment that perfection is an ideal, often out of reach. In my early writing, I believed every word had to be flawless from the start.
However, writing is about creation, not perfection. It’s a journey where mistakes, detours, and revisions are vital steps towards the final masterpiece. So, I remind myself that it’s okay to make mistakes; they are markers of progress, not failure.
Writing’s first draft is a raw diamond waiting to be shaped. Embracing imperfection means giving yourself permission to write poorly, to explore ideas, and to silence the inner critic.
It’s about understanding that writing is a dynamic process. The journey of creation is as vital as the destination, and joy lies in both the act of writing and the finished work.
In embracing imperfection, I’ve found freedom. Writing is an ever-evolving adventure where creativity knows no bounds. Imperfections are not obstacles but the essence of the creative process.
As I balance my medical career with writing, I carry the knowledge that imperfection is not the enemy; it’s a trusted companion on this artistic journey. It’s a reminder that in imperfections, we find authenticity, and in mistakes, the gems of creativity.
5. Self-Care: Balancing two demanding worlds requires self-care. I ensure I get enough rest, eat well, and engage in activities that rejuvenate me.
6. Community Support: I’ve found strength in connecting with fellow writers who understand the struggles. Their support and insights are invaluable.
Balancing a demanding medical career with a passion for writing isn’t easy, especially when perfectionism lurks in the shadows. But I’ve learned that with the right tools, it’s possible. Scheduling, prioritisation, and embracing imperfection are the keys to this delicate dance.
So, when people ask me how I find the time to do it all, my answer is simple: I make the time. Life’s chaos is a constant, but it’s how we navigate it that defines us. As I continue on this journey, I invite you to join me. Embrace your passions, face your inner critic, and remember that perfectionism, while a relentless companion, can be tamed. The dance is intricate, but the music is beautiful, and together, we can find our rhythm.