Balancing the Grind with Blake Auden, Poet & Writer

Blake Auden is a poet and writer based in Brighton, UK. His brand new book, Murmuration, is now available to pre-order worldwide.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’m a poet and author, based in Brighton, UK. I’ve always been drawn to the arts, particularly writing, and I’ve tried to build my career around the things I’m passionate about.

My love for writing started in childhood, when I would read war poetry as a way of feeling closer to my father, who has spent a lifetime in the military. I completed degrees in Film & English and Music, spending time as a musician, lyricist and filmmaker throughout my twenties.

I found myself turning back to poetry in my early thirties, primarily as a way of coping with anxiety and struggles with my mental health. In 2019, a friend suggested I begin publishing my work via Instagram, and since then I’ve published every day via social media.

Today, I have a healthy Instagram following, I’ve self-published three books and my fourth, Mumuration, is coming out worldwide on October 5th, 2021.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

My working days are often very similar, and this has been particularly true during the pandemic.

I usually start my day by opening my Instagram page, and responding to comments and messages from the previous evening. It’s important to me to try and engage with my readers, particularly when they’ve taken the time to share something personal or kind.

That is usually followed by breakfast and some light exercise, before I begin reviewing my journaling from the previous day. I try to journal every evening, both as a way of managing my anxiety and as a starting point for my poetry. I will usually spend a couple of hours trying to write new pieces, and they’re often incorporating themes, words or entire sentences from my journal.

After lunch, I will usually package book sales from the previous 24 hours, and try to deal with the logistics of selling books through my own website. This will often mean replying to customers, dealing with stock, packaging and posting orders, managing ecommerce notifications and ensuring the website is kept up to date.

My afternoons are usually spent on presentations and photography for Instagram. Nearly all the pieces on my Instagram page are hand-written, so I will write out, present, photograph and edit new poems, as well as ensuring I publish in the mid-late afternoon, every day.

My evenings are normally built around replying to emails, managing my weekly newsletter and working on new books. I will also try to do something else creative, such as play piano or guitar, write lyrics, or I’ll spend a couple of hours reading.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Absolutely. I can really work from anywhere, as long as I have reliable access to social media, and a pen and paper. I think the ability to work remotely is becoming more important to people in lots of different careers, and my mental health has certainly benefited from not being tied to a desk every day.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I think that’s a difficult question, because it draws a clear distinction between ‘work’ and ‘life’, as though they are completely separate things.

I’m lucky enough to truly love what I do, and I feel that my work gives my life meaning. So I don’t feel the need to separate them in the way, perhaps, other people do.

It’s always been important to me that I wake up excited to start the day, that what I do with my time is meaningful to me, and I’m lucky enough to say that poetry gives me that.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

I think lockdown caused many people to develop new routines, largely out of necessity and keeping themselves sane during an extremely difficult period.

For me, the isolation helped me to develop a habit of honest introspection – really thinking about what was important to me, about the person I wanted to be (and the person I was).

This was actually the inspiration behind my recent chapbook, The Things We Leave Behind, which is a collection of poems about loss, grief, anxiety and family, contextualised by the pandemic.

I think this idea of regularly reflecting on what’s really important will continue for me, personally, and it’s honestly changed the way I look at my career, those I love and my life as a whole.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Absolutely! I’m continually inspired and motivated by the work of other artists, and there are some things that I’ve fallen in love with in recent months, including:

  • Monument – Keaton Henson
  • The Carrying – Ada Limon
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong
  • The Grief We’re Given – William Bortz

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Given that Instagram is my primary platform for connecting with my audience, that’s certainly one app I couldn’t live without! Otherwise, an Internet-connected phone is pretty important, as well as a music streaming service such as Spotify.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I would love to read an interview on that by Pep Guardiola. I’m a huge Manchester City fan, and his passion for the game really shines through in everything he does. He comes across as someone who can’t help but take his work home with him, and I’d love to know how he balances that in his personal life.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

For me, I think it comes down to passion, to really loving what you do. I think balance is subjective, and doing something you love every day often doesn’t feel like work, so your life naturally feels more balanced.

Equally, if you’re working in a job you don’t enjoy, even shorter hours can leave you feeling tired, stressed and unmotivated. I’m reminded of a quote, which I think is from Harvey Mackay: Find something you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.