Prioritizing

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Prioritizing

Believe it or not, I To-Do Listmeant to post about priorities on Friday. But, as is often the case, other things came up– notes for a manuscript, calls with someone from a contracts department–and I found myself putting this post off. Almost poetic, ain’t it?

And it wasn’t too hard to do. You see, as much as I like writing these blog posts, they fall pretty low on my list of priorities, somewhere near going through the slush pile and reading deals on Publisher’s Marketplace.

Agents are busy people. We must write and respond to emails, make phone calls, talk shop with other agents, prepare for conferences, read manuscripts, and manage a thousand other tasks that fall under the umbrella of trying to find new clients and helping our current ones. Then, of course, many of us have families, personal lives, or an undying love for professional sports.

Of course, as busy as I find myself, I’m still working only one job. Which means I can’t imagine what you must be going through if writing isn’t what’s currently putting bread on the table.

So tell me … how do you prioritize when it comes to your writing? Where does your craft and your work fall among all the other occupational, familial, and personal responsibilities you have? And how do you stay committed to carving time out each day to follow your dream?

To-Do List
  1. I recognize that just as the sun rises each morning, so will resistance to writing. So, I expect “stuff” will attempt to get in my way. So I have weapons that make sure I get through the blocks, these enemie of my creative time. These include: Having strong intentions, scripting my intentions, setting DAYS aside to write (it is my vocation), using the challenges as writing material and meditation to help me focus.

    Steven Pressfield’s book, “The War of Art” is my armor against resistance. A must for every writer and artist. Thanks, Julie

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  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Boni Ashburn. Boni Ashburn said: Prioritizing is like outlining: I know I should, but I don't. RT @UpstartCrowLit Upstart Crow blog: Prioritizing http://tinyurl.com/ybgo3ur [...]

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  3. Writing is an important thing for me, so I make time for it–whether I’m in the mood to write or not. I’ve set a daily word count goal, and write six days a week. My goal for word count grows as I do. I try to set it at a number that makes me reach a little without being impossible.

    Priorities, for me, are generally semi-fluid depending on what’s happening at the time. Sometimes I can balance things so I can get more writing time in, other times I have to cram that time in somewhere.

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  4. I have a set word count I try to reach everyday, and same as Danyelle, I put my bum in the seat whether I feel like it or not. Usually the days I don’t feel like writing are the ones I end up writing the best prose. Go figure…

    I am a mum of a toddler and pre-schooler so I write when the toddler is napping. When he decides to give up the naps (hopefully not for a while!), then I’ll need to reassess things. I need a routine, eg: kid goes down at 1.30, I am at the computer at 1.35 and will write for two hours until kid wakes up. The routine helps and I feel guilty if I try to break it.

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  5. I have to finish my online work (which pays money) first; then I’m a mom. Writing comes when the kids are either at school and I’m finished with paying work, or when my Kindergartener is having quiet time…and it includes tons of mental writing so that when I get the chance to sit and physically do it, the words pour out (at least, that’s the goal).

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  6. I’m a mom of three and its busy, busy! Nap time is sacred writing time. The kids go to bed at 7pm. Also sacred time. My rock-star husband will take over most Saturdays and give me a big chunk of time to write. I sneak blogging in while they’re eating, and I stuff unfolded laundry in drawers!

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  7. I work full time in the financial industry to take care of my mother and daughter…and dog, Reuben. :) When I get home and spend time with my family, the clock rolls to eleven p.m. and I get out my notebook of ideas that I’ve written all day long and go at the writing full force. As long as I get to bed by 2:00, I can get up and do it again the next day. It’s worth it. Writing is definitely an obsession.

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  8. If I wasn’t writing, I would have lost my mind long ago and, therefore, wouldn’t be able to perfom at my 9-5 job. So, I guess, writing is priority #1, followed closely by work-work, followed by closely by parenting, then somewhere way down the line are dishes, toilets, and laundry. (At least some weeks they make the list.)

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  9. With no recipe to follow, I am driven by the joy of writing. (Try to clock out way before midnight . . . check-in varies.)

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  10. 1) Stuff that makes money
    2) Stuff that doesn’t make money but is fun anyway.
    3) Stuff that doesn’t make me money and is no fun.
    4) Tax returns, figuring out expenses.
    5) Getting shots

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  11. I always have lists—long lists, two-pagers—that I revise once a week or more often. And I always end up having different things rise up and dominate me until, broken and empty and weeping, I drag myself out of the office.

    This weekend I crossed off about ten items. Today not a one.

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  12. Tiny bits at a time! My writing goal a day (for fiction) is just 250 words. That way I can easily make myself sit down, the goal being so small. I usually end up getting closer to 500 anyway!

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  13. It’s amazing what you can get done when you don’t watch TV. ;)

    Seriously–I plant myself at my computer every night and most days off. I don’t play games, and I limit my forum and chat interactions, and even those are with other writers likely to motivate me. I’m a writer–so I write.

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  14. Sleep? Who needs it. The muse beckons me at night. The phone has stopped ringing. The kids are in bed. The work-work is done (or done enough for the day) and it is time to write. My time. I write at other times, as well, when I can find them, but night is my writing day. I’m often up into the wee hours and beyond. Perhaps pushing my limits frees my imagination.

    Editing, proofreading and revising, however, must be done with a clear head and fresh eyes.

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  15. Getting through my to-do list sometimes feels like I’m trailing behind in a 3-legged race (with a twisted ankle) to the finish line.

    I go through cycles of being inspired to write, to swearing off it forever. Most often it falls somewhere far down on the list, well below cleaning out the junk drawer in the bathroom or weeding out expired canned goods.

    It’s easier to just assume my Martha Stewart-esque role as pity party planner for the self doubting writer in me, than it is to make writing a #1 priority.

    I keep telling myself I don’t need sleep and to write all night. Or, that I really don’t need to watch Brett Favre play against the Packers. Or, that i don’t need to drink that second glass of wine and maybe I’ll stay awake. Or, that I can wake up at the crack of dawn and write for 4 hours until it’s time for the morning rush. Right.

    Eventually I pick myself back up, shake the cobwebs out of my head and try my hand at writing one more time. Somehow, someway, I end up writing again, just when I finished going around the neighborhood sharing my excitement that yes! I quit writing for good!

    In the end, I guess writing feeds my soul, even if my eyes are the only ones reading my work.

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  16. Prioritizing is a major problem — whether to trill the fingers on the keyboard or work to keep them pumped full of nutrients.

    How great it would be to multitask in this respect!

    But for now, the priorities of the fantasy world and those of the harsh vista of day jobs and ironing lock horns like duelling moose in a vast expanse of barren snow.

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  17. This may sound cliche`, but it is so true: if I put first things first (spiritual well-being, family responsibilities, exersize, etc.) I can always find enough time to write, no matter what my schedule is like. If I ever loose sight of what’s most important, I find myself frantically scavenging for that time.

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  18. Yikes! I struggle with this one. I just tell myself that everyday, the writing must happen. My goals are modest, but with a full time job, and a family, well, if I did not make it a priority, my pages would always be blank.

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  19. I have a running to-do list. I have a lot of writing goals, so they seem to take up more of the list. However, I have all the other stuff I have to do as well. And then I go through and check stuff off.

    “Well, yesterday, in your free hour, you concentrated on reviewing your brainstorming notes and tried to visualize a cohesive outline. (I really do talk long-winded like this, even to myself. It’s amazing I get ANYthing done.) So that means that today in my one free hour, I need to concentrate on studying for my journeyman’s exam. Remember, money is good.”

    It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s the attmept that’s made. I’m inspired to “write” constantly and have to really reel it in.

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