Friday Speak Out!: Juggling for Writers: Why Two Hands and A Good Head Are Enough, Guest Post by Kelly Thompson

Friday, October 21, 2011
Juggling for Writers: Why Two Hands and A Good Head Are Enough

by Kelly Thompson

As a kid, I thought jugglers had an extra pair of invisible hands. That had to be how they could keep so many things in the air without dropping something or knocking themselves senseless. The only juggling I did then was tossing two ping pong balls in one hand. Oddly, Ringling Brothers never called, and my circus career was over before the age of 12. Which is why it’s strange that I’ve grown up to be a professional juggler.

I don’t use flaming clubs, and have only thrown a bowling ball straight up in the air once (it was an accident…really). My trick? I’m a juggler of words.

I average about 60 hours of writing a week with four balls in my juggling act: a full-time day job in advertising and public relations, a part-time radio job that includes copywriting, a personal blog about writing and radio, and at night and on weekends, I write fiction.

Transitioning between multiple writing gigs during the course of a single day can be a challenge but not an impossibility. Here are some tips to help you keep all the balls in the air:

Regroup and recharge. If the subject of your writing is different from day to night, your brain has to make the transition between the changing styles. At the end of the work day, take a mental break and focus on other things for an hour or two. That allows your mind to downshift from the day’s writing projects and gear up for the night shift.

Stake your territory. If you write in a traditional work setting like an office, you probably have little control over distractions (visitors, phone calls, emails). When you have the opportunity to be the queen of the castle, wherever you’re working, don’t be afraid to rule. Tell others you don’t want to be disturbed, close the door, turn off the cell phone. Make the writing your priority, whether it’s for an employer or for yourself.

Do your chores. Spending a large part of your time writing can be tiring, and there will be times when you won’t feel like doing it. Even if you’re aren’t actively writing, you can still be productive. Doing research, conducting interviews, outlining your story, brainstorming your characters - they’re all important parts of the writing process.

Every juggler misses a catch or takes the occasional hit. The secret to getting better at anything is to simply keep at it. The first tosses might be shaky but once you find your rhythm and focus, sliding from one daily writing job to another will be as easy as a one-handed, double ball toss. And as entertaining, too. Welcome to the writing circus, friends!

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Kelly Thompson is a writer and broadcaster living in Pierre, South Dakota. She posts weekly on Hot off the Wire (, her personal blog about writing, radio and life, and contributes frequently to So then SHE said… (
), a blog she co-authors with a fellow writer.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Kiersten Warren said...

Literary Cirque Du Soleil here you come! Cue the dancing dogs....and Dostoevsky.

I love your posts. So entertaining. Except now I want cotton candy.

Kelly Thompson said...

Thanks, Kiersten! I enjoy your blog, too...always something new and different, funny, sad, uplifting, thought-provoking. I'm patiently waiting for the book!

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