I’m a person who can only add so much to my life at once. If I try to form multiple habits simultaneously or start multiple new activities, chances are I’ll start feeling overwhelmed and end up doing none of them. I’ve learned to take the obvious approach and just add things one at a time. Even if I know I need to do three new things, I’ll prioritize and pick the one that gets added first. Once that one feels firmly entrenched in my routine, number two gets added, and so on.

Everything to do with writing has been much the same. First, I built up the actual habit of writing. Once I felt like I had that down, I added the writing group and started learning to share and edit. Then I added the blog. The last thing I started doing that feels like it’s routine is the submissions of my short stories.

Now I’ve joined a second writing group, which is set up a little differently than the first. In the first, we don’t see the stories in advance, so all critique is offered up during the meetings. The only time commitment is to go to the meetings once a week. In this second group the pieces are shared in advance, so the feedback is a bit more in-depth and done on my own time before we meet. I’m also still editing my friend’s screenplay, in addition to my own novel. And this is on top of an already busy social life and full-time job.

To date it’s felt pretty easy to add things to my life – there was definitely space for them, it was just a matter of getting into new habits. Now I’m beginning to think I might be reaching the point where the things I want to do exceed my capacity to do them.

Now, to be clear, I love all of these things. None of this is meant as a complaint. I’m really enjoying the more in-depth look at the stories in my second writing group. I adore being part of the process of creating my friend’s movie. I love watching my novel improve and I love the sharing and feedback in my writing group.  These are all good things that I want to be doing. There are much worse problems to have than an abundance of fun and interesting activities. But they are taking up more of my free time and more of my energy, both of which are finite.

And, of course, there are even more things I still want to do. I’ve been thinking I need to set up some social media to advertise this site beyond my Facebook friends. At some point the editing of my novel will be complete and it’ll be time to start querying it, while also writing new short stories and the second part of the novel’s trilogy. I still have an existing story I have to finish editing to add it to the submission roster. I’m also thinking it might be time for me to start applying for writing grants. There’s no doubt in my mind that new things I don’t know about yet will be added to the things I’ve just listed.

So if I’m nearing capacity, what’s going to give to make room for these new things? Do I stop seeing friends? Give up my decompression/introvert time? Stop cooking and cleaning?

I’m sure the issue isn’t actually that dire yet. There’s still hours in the day that I’m not spending effectively and more spent in the name of decompression than are strictly necessary. I think this is just the first time that I’ve ever been able to look at my life and say “Wow, I might have too many things going on” and it’s not depression or emotionally-driven hyperbole.

I’ve spent the last five years very deliberately building a life I enjoy, full of fun and interesting activities. It’s wonderful to have this “problem” as an indication of how successful I’ve been at executing that goal. I’m also finding it gratifying that there’s nothing in my mind, when I consider this question of capacity, that says “maybe we give up some of the writing stuff.” My commitment remains unwavering. This is continuously surprising and gratifying for someone who’s always given things up too easily in the face of any kind of struggle.

I’ve spent five years pushing my boundaries, and while I’m certainly considering my capacity, I’m not convinced I’ve reached my limit yet.

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