Thursday, March 15, 2012

Writing and Balance in Everyday Life

It's balance Thursday.
And today we have
Jeanette Fratto!
Read on . . . 

I’ve always loved to write and have done so all my life – short stories, essays, and articles. I’ve even won awards for some of them. It wasn’t until I retired from a 26-year career in law enforcement that I decided to write my first novel. That’s when the desire for balance really set in.

All of my previous writings were efforts that only required a few pages. I could write most of it in my head while cleaning the kitchen or driving to work. When it was time to put it on paper it didn’t take me long to have a finished product. Balance with my day to day activities was never really an issue, as I was able to fit my writing in “here and there” when I had some time.

Writing a novel seemed to be a natural progression of my writing experience. After much thought, I decided to make it a mystery that unfolded through the inner workings of the probation department, where I had worked. My reasons were two-fold. When I worked I realized that most people outside the field did not know what probation officers did, and as a mystery reader, I noted that writers rarely mentioned probation in their books, and it is an important part of the criminal justice system.

For something as complex as a novel, I knew I needed a writing plan more specific than when I could find the time. So I began the search for the “holy grail” of when, and how often, I should write. My husband and I had many activities we enjoyed together, including extensive traveling, and I didn’t want to give those up. A book requires dedication, so I looked for ways to write with optimal results, while still living an active life.

I attended book festivals and endless workshops of published writers. When questions were taken from the audience I would always ask, “how often do you write, and when do you do it?” The answers I received were as varied as the authors. Some wrote between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. every day. Others started writing at midnight after their children were in bed and the house was quiet. None of these plans appealed to me. Most wrote every day, which agrees with what most writing tutorials say to do – WRITE EVERY DAY.

I started out writing every day, usually after breakfast. But then my exercise class interfered. So I moved to the afternoon, but someone would drop in. Each day writing would nag at me until I sat down and wrote a page or two. If I missed a day I felt like a failure. This was obviously not working for me. Then one day I read an article in Writer’s Digest by an author with young children. She said she knew she couldn’t write every day so she didn’t obsess about it. Instead she wrote a few sentences when she could. She had certain designated times which were devoted to writing, but they were short periods. Eventually her book was finished. Her advice – there is no one best way to write. It all gets finished in the end. The best way is the one that works for you.

I felt like a weight had been taken from me. What if I made one day a week my writing day? Only in rare circumstances would I let anything interfere with it. The rest of the week I would think about my plot, maybe jot down notes, but there would be no more daily nagging because I hadn’t yet written anything. My mind would be free to think about my story without feeling the obligation to put something on paper. I chose my day and announced to my husband that he needed to find something interesting to do on his own, because I'd be unavailable from 9 to 5. He was fully supportive.

My first novel was published two years ago, and I just finished my second one. I still follow the one-day-a-week schedule. It may not work for everyone, but since it works for me, I’m sticking to it.
 I live in southern California and am a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, with a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Social Science. I planned to be a clinical psychologist when a flyer on being a probation officer caught my eye. I applied, and after a rigorous four-month process, I was hired and began training. I had a wonderful 26-year career and retired as a Division Director. I'm now concentrating on being a novelist and have begun a series about a female probation officer and her adventures. I have two adult children and three grandchildren. My husband and I travel, take pilates classes together, and enjoy life. He supports my writing efforts and is my best publicist, promoting my work everywhere he can.
  My Books
                NO STONE UNTURNED was my first novel. It is available in paperback, on Kindle, and as an E-Book via my website, which is:   It follows the experiences of probation officer Linda Davenport, who comes to California for new beginnings and gets more than she bargained for.
                NO GOOD DEED will be out by May or June. It is a sequel to my first book and continues with Linda Davenport's experiences.  Both books are in the mystery/romance genre.
                Readers can connect with me in a variety of ways, as follows:
I'm also on Goodreads and Linked-In and I promise to respond to any contacts I receive!
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Thanks Jeanette!
I hope you all enjoyed reading.
If you would like to be considered for a post
let me know.


  1. Such a wonderful post!! Very inspiring and loving the tips on balance! Thanks for sharing them!

  2. Thank you for your comment,Julie. Happy writing!

  3. So true! There is no ideal way to write. I'm also having to rethink my writing schedule because my working hours changed. :-/

  4. Misha, being flexible is the greatest way to stay relaxed while trying to write. Sometimes even taking a short break before you come up with a new time table for writing will get you refreshed and ready to start again.


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