Our True Priorities Dictate Our Time

We get told this over and over: We all have the same 24 hours a day and how we use them is up to us.

As if, somehow, we’re focusing on things that aren’t important to us. And that’s what hinders our writing.

But, let’s be honest, there are always competing priorities for a woman writer’s time:

Our job – because we all have bills
Our relationships – dealing with kids, partner, parents
Our health – exercise, leisure, sleep

For women, our true priorities – our relationships, our children, our work – dictate how we spend our hours each day.

We can’t, as so many advice-givers advocate, just make time to write. We have to schedule our writing time around our priorities. We focus on things that ARE important to us.

In addition to being a wife, mother, and writer, I am a college professor. Today is graduation. I MUST be at graduation, right. It’s a school requirement, I can’t skip it and write.

Should I feel bad about that? I think not.

Like me, you have challenges in your life that are personal to you. Your job is to determine your true priorities and manage your time around those priorities so that your challenges do not create barriers.

The solution is not to in time management, it is in priority management.

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Writing Tip #2

Keep writing. Your words matter. My words matter. Life gets in the way – everyday, every freakin’ day! – but we can’t stop, won’t stop writing. Don’t. Stop. Writing.

When You Finish Writing, Celebrate!

When you finish a piece, celebrate.

When you are working on a long piece, put small celebrations in place along the way.

When you achieve a step toward completing a difficult piece, celebrate.

Why is celebrating important? Celebrating your writing triumphs big and small is a way of honoring your work and yourself. It is a strategy that give you a resting place. We need resting places. In Minding The Muse, Priscilla Long says, “Once we experience the feeling of deep rest after completing a work, it’s natural to strive to get there again” (p. 10). If you never rest, you may give up writing.

It is about the attitude that we as women writers take toward our own work.

Celebrating is about our relation with our own work. Celebration brings joy into our writing life. Choosing to celebrate honors our work.

Today’s Challenge: Come up with a list of celebrations, big and small, that make you feel special. When you finish a piece, a step, a draft, reward yourself with something on your list.

If you found this post helpful, be sure to leave a comment and share with someone you would like to inspire.

Rethinking Goals

1. Writing goals should be expressed as products to be created.

Make goals that are specific and reachable by your own efforts. You want to set goals in which you are entirely in control of the outcome.

I will write for 15 minutes is not a goal. It is part of the process of working towards a goal.

I will write two paragraphs is a goal. I will write a draft of a poem is a goal. I will outline a scene for my novel is a goal.

Also, don’t make goals that depend on other people.

A goal to publish depends on editors. When you choose a goal where the outcome is dependent on the actions of somebody else, through no fault of your own, you may not reach that goal.

For example, last summer I got stung by wasps, went to analytic shock and almost died. Writing an article about it is a terrific goal. And, in fact, I’ve written two. Selling an article about it to a magazine is dependent on the action of an editor. Luckily for me, I’ve sold one and the other one has been submitted for consideration. But my goal was to write the articles.

2. After coming up with your writing goal, break it down into the steps needed to complete it.

What do you need to do to reach your goal? Once I decided to write a magazine article about getting stung, I broke it down into the steps required to reach the goal:

come up with idea for article
research possible markets
write the article
submit it

Most days reaching my writing goal was simple. When it was time to write, I worked on my wasp sting article for 15 or 20 minutes. No hesitation. I knew what the writing plan for the day was. Other days I spent time looking at possible markets or did other research and counted that for my writing time.

So here’s a reminder: set writing goals that are specific and reachable by your own efforts, and you will be entirely in control of the outcome.

If you found this post helpful, be sure to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.