Thursday, October 6, 2016

Does Work Life Balance Exist?

by Sparkle Abbey

If you follow us on Facebook, you know we just returned from our first NINC (Novelists, Inc.) conference in St. Petersburg, FL. We had an amazing time exploring beaches, enjoying local hangouts, and learning from our fellow authors. We returned to Iowa with dozens of seashells and major brain overload.

We attended workshops on business, marketing, and creativity. We learned that we need to do a better job of cultivating our mailing list (sign up here), how to create engaging Facebook ads, new strategies for a launching book #9 (we’re still kicking around titles so if you have one, please share it!), and discovering new readers. We also attended a workshop on balancing two careers by speakers Dr. Debra Holland, Heidi Joy Trethaway, and Dr. Jennifer Barnes.

Since we both still have full-time day jobs, we’re always seeking ways to stay sane while writing the best books we can, and still giving one hundred percent at work. It’s hard enough managing work-life balance with one career, but add a thriving writing career in the mix and all bets are off. Thankfully, all three authors offered practical advice on following your intuition, self-care, and weighing the cost of taking on new projects.

Heidi Joy offered a super easy tip that resonated with us. She suggested that if you’re going to add a new project or task, try and subtract one that you’re already doing. What a great idea! We took it a step further and added that if we can’t subtract anything, then maybe we needed to say no. Now, that’s easy in theory and much more difficult in practice. We’ve been fortunate enough to be asked to participate in special writing projects, speaking engagements, and book fairs. We hate to say no because we love it all, but the whole idea of subtracting before adding is a great starting point.

They also talked about being kind to ourselves, which is something many of us, not just writers, overlook. We get so caught up in being there for others, meeting deadlines, and multi-tasking to stay productive that we forget to set aside time for ourselves. Or we obsess about what we did wrong that we fail to acknowledge what we did right. If you don’t even know where to start here are 17 ways to be kind to yourself. Let us know what you think.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given or have given on finding work-life balance? 

Sparkle Abbey
 is the pseudonym of two mystery authors (Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter). They are friends and neighbors as well as co-writers of the Pampered Pets Mystery Series. The pen name was created by combining the names of their rescue pets--Sparkle (Mary Lee's cat) and Abbey (Anita's dog). If you want to make sure you're up on all the Sparkle Abbey news, stop by their website and sign up for updates at


  1. Love this post, ladies! Sounds like that was a terrific conference. I especially like the subtract one before adding one component--something I really need to initiate. Thanks!

    1. Thank Linda. It was a wonderful conference. For anyone who is a NINC member or who qualifies for membership, they needs to attend. Isn't the subtract one before adding another a great concept? Simple and easy to execute. We're glad someone else thought it might work for them too.

  2. Goodness! I needed to read this right now. Thanks ladies!

    1. You're welcome! It's Friday, so no better time to be kind to yourself than the weekend!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you! If you can think of any other ways to be kind to ourselves, please share them. We're sure there are more than just seventeen. :)

  4. Sounds like a great conference. I love it when I can walk away from a conference with lots of good ideas. I especially like the "subtract one task if you're going to add a new one" concept. That would really be helpful for me because I have a compulsion to finish everything I start, and being able to let go of one to fulfill another would minimize the stress level.