Posted in A Writer's Life, better writing, inspiration, The Writer's Toolbox, write, writer, writing, writing advice, writing better

Everything Else Comes First, Before I Write

Yes, I know. That title contradicts every single piece of writing advice I have ever been given, or heard. In fact, it’s probably the number one advice most give about writing––to put writing first, and do it every day. And perhaps for many that’s what they need––to put writing first, and do it every single day. But I’ve been doing just that for years, and it’s been having a very negative effect on all the other parts of my life.

I need balance. And when I put writing first, I can’t achieve balance, no matter how hard I try (and believe me, I have tried).

So I’m trying something new. I have reprioritized my life and made a new list of how things with happen and it goes something like this…

  1. Spend time with me. This may include walking, meditating, journaling, working on Speak Your Truth posts, yoga, sunbathing, taking a bath, sitting quietly for a bit, or being more mindful of moments.
  2. Spending time with family. This may include meal times, playing games, watching movies or shows, beach time, park time, talking or just listening to someone talking, overall anything that includes spending quality time with one or more family member. This also includes connecting with extended family, and friends.
  3. Fixing Meals. I include this because a large portion of my day goes to fixing three regular meals for myself and my family. I find that this is important for our health and wellbeing, and I do it out of love of each of us.
  4. Homeschooling. This includes any preparation that is needed for lessons as well as helping my son as needed through each lesson and subject. This also may include field trips and extracurricular activities such as educational programs at the library, and regular library trips for new books to read.
  5. Housework/Budget/Grocery Shopping. This is a priority because of its necessity. If I don’t do these things, our household does not run well at all. That being said, we have split up the housework between all family members so that everything does not fall on just me.
  6. Publishing Company. This may include a large variety of activities such as sending emails, converting and managing files, designing covers, marketing and outreach, writing blog posts, basically anything that needs to be done to help facilitate the publication of books.
  7. Writing. Yep, finally number seven writing comes in. This writing is pretty much any fiction writing I do. I actually have my journaling and Speak Your Truth blog posts at a much higher priority because of how much they help me stay clear about who I am and the things I want. I also put any writing posts I might do at number six because they too deserve a higher rank. The rest has to wait until everything else is done (for the day, or if there’s nothing pressing at the time).
  8. Everything else. This may include reading, watching tv, painting, or anything else I might do for fun (though some of these things can also be included in me time at number one).

So there you have it. My list of priorities. I put myself first, because if I can’t get me straight, then all else is a chaotic mess. You might say writing could be considered me time, but outside of journaling and Speak Your Truth posts, the other writing I do takes up way too much time and concentration, and really needs a category of its own.

So poor writing bumped all the way down to number seven. At first I was hesitant to do this because of all the writing advice I was ever given about writing. But I decided to try it and see what would happen, and I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

I am much happier. I have a bounce in my step. Everything excites me now. Why? Because when I put writing as a number one priority that’s all I could think about. I wasn’t enjoying my life because I felt everything was getting in the way of my writing. And because I was putting so much pressure on myself to write, I wasn’t writing anyways. So really what was the point?

I don’t need to prove I can write. I can, and I do. So making sure I write every, single day is not something I need to do. I don’t get more done when I devote all my attention and time to writing. I get less done (less in my writing and a heck of a lot less in everyday life stuff), because I’m so concerned about producing results. Since starting this new priority list, I have actually produced more solid writing ideas than I have in months. I have not had the time to write all these ideas into actual scenes, so I have been doing quick snippets in a journal so I don’t loose the idea. I have lots of notes, and am creating a system to keep track of all my notes.

So far I have five different books I want to work on. I first considered cutting back to just doing one or two. I’m not going to do that. All my books have merit, and I will accomplish writing and finishing all of them (and probably more than that). It may take longer than I originally thought, but that’s okay. The important thing is that I enjoy what I do. That I don’t sacrifice one part of my life for another. I am seeking balance, and if that means holding off on a few things for a little bit. I am completely okay with that.

I can’t say that this way will work for everyone, or anyone should follow my example. What I am saying is that just because “most” people do it a certain way doesn’t mean it has to be done that way.

Do what works for you.

I would also like to point out that I don’t rely on my writing as income (and make it a point not to). Some do, so that takes a higher priority. But like I said, this works for me. At least for now, and when it stops working, I will adjust and change as needed.


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