New wisdom: writing priorities

This is the third post in a series of three on the challenges of managing time and priorities. Links here to posts 1

and 2

Finally, I need to confront another of my recurring realities: my writing schedule is erratic.

I started to write this as my “blogging schedule is erratic,” but I do a lot more writing than just for my blog, and sometimes those different focuses compete, and bend to time pressure from one commitment or other.

So how did something that began as a hobby become a pressure?

Well now…if I could answer that, I could solve a lot of issues for myself, and probably for a lot of others too.

Isn’t this something most of us struggle with? Something that we started voluntarily, something that we chose to take on, takes on a life of its own, and now lives right up there on the list of “must dos.”

So there are really two issues here.

One, I’ve moved writing from a casual thing in my life to something I seriously value, something I’ve elevated above a mere hobby.

I came around to realizing, sometime in the last two years, that I wanted to transition away from the other work I do and focus on writing, over time making it my source of income. So that goal immediately made writing more important and more intentional than hobby-blogging.

I recognized writing and creativity are joyful for me, and again, with intention, I elevated writing from a pastime to an important means of self-expression.

The second issue is just about timing, and staying on track with my self-assigned commitments to a specific number of posts per week, work on a book, a course, or whatever the project may be.

With my best intentions to be regular and disciplined, my work and travel life, which are variable almost every week, keep me off balance when it comes to a regular rhythm of writing. Though writing is always on my agenda, I routinely postpone my time to sit and create, for all the usual reasons: too tired, on the go, lack of focus, the urgent over the important.

So, how can I confront mis-prioritaztion and quit making excuses?

As I continue to grow in the experience of working in non-traditional ways, I take on more and more of the responsibility for setting my schedule, choosing how much and how often to work, and by extension, choosing how much income I’ll have to show for my efforts.

One of my realizations is that writing, even if I’m not earning income from it now, has the potential to change my income if I continue to work at it, and find ways to grow readership and offerings.

And that means I need to take it seriously, both as a means of self-expression, and as a work-in-progress toward income stream. I’ve had this goal for a while, but I haven’t really been seeing it as a motive to stay focused.

I’ve been saying I wanted to grow an income from my writing, and I’ve been working toward that in some ways…writing books and putting them on Amazon, launching this site with a goal of growing a community from it.

But though I’ve done a number of things to work toward my goal in a serious way, I haven’t gone all the way. I haven’t treated my writing as seriously as I would treat another work commitment.

Why? Because I could, I suppose. After all, I’m the only one I answer to for my project timelines and choices. I’m not feeling the pressure of working with a team, or having deadlines I have to meet…it’s all very casual.

I realized I’m not really doing myself any favors here…I’m undercutting the work I do, and the goal I have to create income, by not treating writing as a serious job. I treat it as a hobby as far as priority, so it’s easy to tell myself I’m too tired, or not in the mood, or whatever.

So, my epiphany: if I’m going to take writing seriously enough to spend money creating a site, or paying for editing services for my books, shouldn’t I create and maintain a real schedule for blogging, or getting my projects finished? If I don’t act as a professional in this area, what message am I giving others?

What message am I giving myself?

If I want to be regarded as a professional writer, don’t I have to demonstrate I am one? And part of demonstrating that reality comes back to the timing issue.

I feel like I’ve climbed over this hill…or mountain…in other ways. Choosing to spend money to move to the next level was definitely a milestone. But though I did that, and I’ve put a lot of personal effort toward my goals, I’ve never really conquered the problem of producing consistently…I do better for a while, then fall behind again.

I can do all sorts of things to help myself…use an editorial calendar, think of personal rewards to treat myself if I meet my goals. Certainly beginning to see income from my writing would be a reward to celebrate. But any of these tools are just that: tools. For this particular issue, I don’t need new or better or more tools.

I need to absorb what I just wrote: that I’ll never be a professional in this field if I can’t manage myself into a rhythm as a consistent and reliable producer.

After all, writing is producing. Whether anyone reads my work or not isn’t even the point at the moment. The reality is: no one can read my work if I never get the words on the screen, or the page. I have to do my work first, long before I worry about growing a readership.

Readers can’t read blank pages. And I’m not really a writer if I have blank pages on my blog. I’m just a wanna-be.

And that’s not acceptable to me.

Maybe the bottom line is this…it’s less about time management, and more about mind management…how I see myself, what reality I commit to, and how much I want what I say I want.

I don’t want to be a wanna-be. I want to be.

So this post isn’t going to have a list of new apps I’ll try to improve my writing habits, or a format to create an elaborate calendar to schedule blog posts for the coming months.

This post just helped me confront the real issue, and that’s my internal commitment, how seriously I commit to myself.

And that’s really all I need to know, all I need to move forward.

I know what my answer is, and that will be motivation enough.

What about you? Do you have commitments to yourself that you need to reconsider? Rethink? See in a new light? Let me know! I’d love to hear how others manage these nitty-gritty struggles.

See you on the next post!


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