Thursday Writing: Back to priorities, again

Book giveaway

Not relevant to the post, but today I visited our county library's annual giveaway of their discards. FREE BOOKS FOR ALL!!!

My July writing goal was to establish a daily practice, that’s all: I just had to write every day. Ideally I’d be working on serious writing projects, but any kind of writing would do. Fine — I accomplished that, by regular morning pages and revising this blog. This is not insignificant, and I was feeling very proud of myself for doing it.

A couple of days ago I was reading a time-management post by YA fantasy author Patricia Wrede, and I left a comment about how I’d carved out these two hours of writing time for myself every day with the pages and the blog. She responded that these things aren’t really writing: that is, if my goal is to be writing fiction (or anything, really), then these activities take away from my fiction-writing time; and so, though they look like writing, they’re not really helping my writing.

When I read Wrede’s reply to my comment, my first reaction was visceral, childish resentment. “She doesn’t know me, my journal is important to my writing, it’s my writing and no one else can say anything about it,” and so forth. Luckily, this defensive inner child lives with a wise adult with perspective. Yes, it’s true my pages give me a lot of insight, yes it’s true that blogging helps me creatively… but can’t it also be true that these things keep me from my “serious” writing time? Of course the answer to that is yes — just the way it’s true that going to yoga class keeps me from doing more cardio. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, but each one serves a different goal, and I have to make a choice between them. (Which is exactly what Wrede was saying in that entry.)

This frustrates me to no end!! I hate having to sacrifice one thing for another! I want it all! But that’s impossible, as I fretted in last month’s reprioritizing entry, and so, here I am faced with the same problem all over again. I’d thought the reprioritizing would smooth everything in my life, but it’s clear now that it was only the first step. It gave me time to do my two hours of blogging and journaling every day, but now the difficulty is figuring out where to find an additional two hours a day for fiction (or whatever). And for painting, and for exercising, and so forth… I want to cry (or bang my head against the wall) every time I think of it. It was hard enough doing the first round of sacrifices, and now I have to do it again. And will probably have to continue doing it all my life, given my tendency to take on more than I can handle.

Well, I am luckier than most. This is my day job, which is a privilege few artists have. If I do find a way to work 6 or 8 or 14 hours a day, I’ve got those hours. And I’ve just begun a new fiction project that I suspect will help me to think more deeply about commitment and focus, so that’s promising. I’ll share an excerpt tomorrow in Friday Open Mic, along with a thoughtful, honest featured piece by Lisa Fisher! See you then!