Saturday, May 20, 2023

Finding a Work-Life Balance for Writers

by Patty Smith Hall @PattySmithHall

I love checking into my friend, Kaye’s Facebook post every day. They’re such an encouragement to me at this point in my writing journey. After a year-long sabbatical, I’ve been struggling with how to restart my writing and still have time to have a life. I need a work/life balance—I’m just not sure how to achieve that.

That’s where Kaye comes in.

After several successful novels, Kaye disappeared from the publishing world. I kept up with her at first—we’d formed a bond in the early days of our careers—but eventually, life got in the way. I hadn’t heard from her in almost eight years when her Facebook post popped up in my feed. She was writing again! Over the last two months, Kaye has posted her daily word count along with her writing time as an online accountability partner. At first, I simply cheered her on but as time passed, I realized how I could use her methods to learn the work/life balance I craved.

Set a Small Goal

There is truth in the old saying, ‘You can’t eat an elephant in one sitting but with one bite at a time.’ For most writers, we look at the word count that goes into a full-length novel and want to get down as many words as we can as fast as we can. While that’s great for those that write fast, it’s a burden to the rest of us. Failure for not making a high word count weighs us down, making it more difficult to be creative. That’s why I loved Kaye’s idea of starting with a small goal and working her way up. When she started posting to Facebook, her writing goal for the day was one hundred words. That doesn’t sound like much when you’re writing a ninety-thousand-word novel but think of it this way—it’s a hundred words you didn’t have yesterday. She also set a goal of focusing on her writing for five minutes each day. Kaye went over in her word count and writing time most days but not by much.

Increase Your Goals Slowly

For me, this is important. Last year, I suffered mental and physical exhaustion after turning in my final book. For six weeks, it was common for me to write from dawn until midnight. My marriage suffered and I felt like I’d failed those I love the most. I hated the thought of writing and thought at the time I was done. So, increasing my writing goals slowly is extremely important. This must have been important to Kaye also because she did just that. Three weeks after she started, she bumped her word count to three hundred words with a fifteen-minute writing time, then three weeks later, increased it to five hundred words in fifteen minutes.

Now some of you are probably smirking at that low word count but consider this—five hundred words, five days a week equals twenty-five hundred words. That’s ten thousand words in a four-week month. A stand-alone novel in eight to nine months. And you’ve only worked fifteen minutes a day. If you want to write for a longer period, that’s great. My hope is I’ll invest an hour each day to writing because there’s other things I want to do.

Be Accountable

I love when Kaye posts her weekly numbers on Facebook. Not only do I get to touch base and congratulate her, but her reports are also encouraging. Writing is a solitaire life so being accountable, whether it’s to your Facebook or your critique group, provides an opportunity for writers to connect. It gives us a chance to cheer each other on as well as pray for each other when life gets in the way.

At her most recent post, Kaye had written a little over thirty-five thousand words in seventeen hours. I’m going to take a page out of her book and post my writing numbers to Facebook. Hopefully, I’ll encourage other writers as well as keep myself balanced as I start writing again. 


Patty Smith Hall is a multi-published author, teacher and encourager to new writersjust starting their journey. A founding member of ACFW, she served on the national board and as a Genesis contest coordinator, and presided as president of her local chapter. As an acquisition editor for Winged Publications, she finds great joy in helping and encouraging others reach their publishing dreams. Married almost 40 years to Danny, she finds great joy in her family, friends, and her relationship with Jesus Christ. You can contact her at


  1. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Patty. I’m in such a writing drought that my study resembles a western ghost town room. I’ll give Kaye’s strategy a try.

  2. I'm so pleased you're doing this, Patty!

  3. Fabulous article. I think starting smaller and increasing goals slowly is a wise way to approach one's author journey.