Harry Kraus

Harry Kraus, MD is the best-selling author of a dozen novels including The Six-Liter Club and three non-fiction titles including Domesticated Jesus. His books reflect his passion about real life encountering grace and are laced with his signature stripe of medical realism. As a board-certified general surgeon, Dr. Kraus has worked both in USA and abroad in East Africa as a medical missionary. He is currently home in Virginia on furlough from his work with Africa Inland Mission. Visit Harry at http://www.harrykraus.com/.

Harry Kraus, MD., FACS,

Balancing a writing life and real life is an issue for most of us, until Oprah calls because she is highlighting our books on her show. Since I’m writing this, you can assume she hasn’t phoned me.

For me, my “day job” as a general surgeon is often irregular and turns into my “night job,” too. Nonetheless, I have managed to balance writing and a career in general surgery. This does create tension in my life, something that has spilled into the lives of my mostly surgeon protagonists. If there is tension in your life, even from an overblown schedule, harvest the emotion to use in your writing.

First, let me tell you how not to do it. I’ve been there, done this, and I don’t recommend it: the juggle technique. You are definitely handling too many balls, so you heave one into the air to ignore it temporarily while paying attention only to the ones about to crash! Not good for you, your spouse, or your careers!

Let me make a few simple suggestions: 1) The writing life is a gift of grace! If God has called you to write, if He has gifted you to do His work, then striving and strife need to take a backseat to the realization that He is in control and His peace needs to reign. He is in charge over whether you are a best seller, and by in large you need to work on writing good stories and lay aside much of the other striving to make yourself the next big hit; 2) My friend Angie Hunt has a few time management suggestions that are gold in reaching a balanced life: First, “How do you eat a cow? One bite at a time.” I’ll let that stand on it’s own. Second, she says, “Learn to say no,” and “The phone is not your master.” I like those. Don’t be ruled by technology. If the phone rings during your writing time, return the calls later!

The biggest way I have reached a balance is because of the support I have from my wife. She understands the demands of my writing career and does much of the business “stuff” that can steal my time. I can’t really offer any advice in this regard, except that if you find a supportive spouse, latch hold, do the necessary work to make that relationship last, and the rewards will be infinite.

For me, especially early in my career, I refused to be tightly bound by contracts. I accepted contracts for only one book at a time (something I no longer do, but when I accept a multibook contract, the time demands are still very doable or I won’t sign!) because I never wanted to have to write under deadline. My career as a surgeon has given me the ability to do this because I’ve had enough income to put bread on the table that didn’t come from writing.

God has given each of us the same amount of hours in the day. If you are struggling to find time to write, make a time journal—journalling how every hour is spent for a few days may

help. How many hours can you find that were “wasted”? Was that hour of TV really worth it? Could a half-hour of exercise actually make you more productive?

I have stolen hours at night after the kids are busy with homework, hours travelling, hours during dead time between cases, and even if I am not writing, I can be working on plot twists in my head. I often “back-burner” problem spots in my novels by just going on with something else while the problem simmers in my subconscious. Often when I am going about my daily work, a solution will present itself when I’m not directly focusing on my writer’s block. When I have so much to do, I just take on another job and let the writing problem simmer.

The solutions to balancing the writer’s life are as varied as there are individuals! My final bit of advice is to remember that for us as Christian authors, the one thing that cannot be squeezed aside is our relationship with Christ. We cannot expect to refresh our readers with stories of grace if we have become dry and crusty in our own spiritual lives.

For all of you balancing two careers, seize the moment, kiss your supportive spouse, and remember where the true fountain of living water is located.


Six Liter Club