Mandy, who asked:
How do you prioritize? How do you balance paying attention to your writing, critiquing for friends, spending time with your family and earning a living?
The truth of me is that I'm lazy. I see little point in doing today that which can be done tomorrow. It's a sad truth. I purposely choose to live in places where I don't have to do yard work because I detest yard work. So I use a system of bribes.
I do my day job because it pays the bills. I complain about it frequently. It's boring, it's annoying, the people I work with are typical office cattle who riot if someone forgets to refill the paper towel dispenser. But the truth is that it's easy. I get paid decently. As the economic downturn ravaged most Americans, I was secure. So at the end of the day, I do it because it pays for the house in which I write, the computer on which I write, and for the travels which inspire my writing.
My writing is easy to prioritize. I used to fall into the trap of only writing when I "felt" the words. But now I set specific times of the day and make them sacred. Should I choose to write outside of those times, that's awesome, but like my job, those sacred times are must-write times. If I'm not in the mood to write, then I sit there and stare at a blank screen. Usually I get bored and start writing. Sometimes I doodle. Sometimes I think up more stories. But the point is that it's become a habit. A good habit. And I scheduled the times early so that I can still have plenty of time for other things.
My family and friends get my time too. I fail them as frequently not, but I try. By my nature, I'm not a social person, but I care deeply about my family and friends and know that they can't be taken for granted.
Everything else gets swept to the side. If I'm on a roll with a story and don't feel like cleaning, then I do it next week. If I'm exhausted and don't feel like cooking, I order in. Life is short and while I know that there are times I'm going to have to do things I don't want to do, I have a hard time understanding people who spend all their time doing things they don't like. I freely admit that I watch too much TV and that this last year has seen me get fat and fail to participate in a marathon that I wanted to do, which is why I'm reorganizing my priorities. I'm making my exercise a new habit. Something that goes along with writing and working and family.
Reading and critting and such are things I love doing. I love them so much. And they're essential to my growth as a writer. Seeing the amazing talent out there helps me become better. But those things often get sidelined. I used to polish off a book in a few hours with no problem. Now I'm lucky if I can read two chapters before bed.
As you can tell by my posts, I'm frequently disorganized, but I find that if I tell myself what the most important things in my life are, and make sure that I do those things, it doesn't matter if the other stuff gets done. It's not like that dust bunny under my bed won't still be there next week. Right?
So go on and check out what the always awesome Michelle had to say about this, and what the kick-butt-and-take-no-prisoners Cole will have to say after Thanksgiving.
Have a happy Thanksgiving all!