“Balancing family, a day job, and writing” Read how S.J. Lem, author of “The Waterfall Traveler” cops with it all!

Balancing family, a day job, and writing


I’m so glad that you asked me about balancing family, career, and writing. It’s something I do on a daily basis.

Currently, I’m the Manager of Digital Creative Direction for a large company and the mother to an amazing baby boy who is the center of my world. Somewhere in the mix of changing diapers and work, I squeeze in time to write. Of course, things don’t always go as planned! Babies get sick (or teeth at night which leads to one tired mama in the morning), and rush design projects come in requiring me to put in extra hours at work. So it’s challenging at times, but so worth it.

I think the important thing to remember is that you must set realistic expectations for yourself. In the past, I often gave myself nearly impossible deadlines to meet, which led to me writing late into the night. I wasn’t creating my best work because I was burnt out. I even considered putting writing on hold until my life was less hectic. So I went on a writing hiatus for about two weeks, but I missed that creative outlet terribly. More so, I missed the collaboration and conversations with those in my writing group.

So instead of giving up writing, I decided to incorporate more balance into my life. I have a forty-minute train commute to and from work each day, and that’s my writing time. (In fact, that’s where I’m writing this right now!) I give myself one realistic goal to complete in that time. It could be anything from completing a word count, writing a blog post, answering interview questions, or following up on emails and social media.

There’s a blogger I follow who has this wonderful concept that she calls leisurely hustle. The idea is that you dedicate a certain amount of time to a task and avoid any other distractions (ahem, Pinterest I’m looking at you) in order to complete it with laser-like focus. Afterward, you dedicate a certain amount of time to do something enjoyable. I hustle and get stuff done while on the train, and afterward I enjoy a fifteen-minute walk into the office. I use that time to daydream about story ideas, enjoy the fresh air, reflect, or sip a chai latte.

I focus on family and work for the remainder of the day. I’m committed to both and give them my undivided attention. But again, as with writing, I place realistic expectations on myself. I think that’s the best way to enjoy life rather than feel overwhelmed by it.

Thank you so much for asking me about this very important topic and for featuring me on your blog.


The Waterfall Traveler
S.J. Lem
Publication date: April 19th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

All eighteen-year-old Ri wants is to cure her adoptive father Samuel from his hallucination-inducing illness. Everyone in her village tells her it’s impossible. But when she meets two newcomers in the forest—a gruff rogue with a vendetta against the gods and a charming fugitive who saves her life—she’ll be torn away from Samuel and swept across the sea to an oppressive city governed by a ruthless tyrant. Once there, she’ll not only have to confront Samuel’s unlawful past, but a vicious evil that threatens all mankind.

In this tale of bravery, friendship, and unforeseen love, Ri risks it all to save those she cares for. But if she prevails, she’ll find the one thing she yearns for most—a cure for Samuel.

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Author Bio:

S.J. Lem is a digital art director gone writer in hopes of expanding her creative aspirations. Whether it’s introducing dimensional characters, crafting imaginative worlds, or transporting readers into high-stakes adventures, she strives to deliver an immersive experience.

She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. When not writing, she enjoys pottery, gardening, and volunteering. Connecting with readers and fellow writers is one of her greatest joys.

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