Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Determining What is Best for You

Last week I spent a couple of  hours reworking the running playlist on my iPod. I felt guilty neglecting my writing and said so on Facebook. Somebody wrote me back and said running was good for me, so it was okay.

Maybe. I had music on my iPod, just not in the best order. Two hours. I'm an organizational guru, often known to make lists. Then I got to thinking...which can take me on tangents into the universe, if I'm not careful. So I sat down to blog about this, to stay on point.

Many things are good for us. Spending time with friends and family, for instance. But where do you draw the line? When do you say you have to go?

Cooking a good meal takes time. Do you capitalize that time and reward your family with a marvelous five-course meal or short-cut it for your writing deadlines? You can feel the guilt creep in.

Which birthday parties do you miss? How any miles do you run for your health? How many hours do you spend in the garden or on the sofa watching a movie with your spouse? There's nothing bad about any of these activitites. All are good for you...and others.

You have an endless list of competition for your time. It's a perpetual guilt trip.

Define the axis around which your world is supposed to spin. No, you can't be all things for all people. You can't perfect yourself in all activities. Cast some aside. Define those you want to be remembered for. Shorten the time you spend on others. Downright neglect some things.

Neglect? Why?

Because otherwise, you neglect your writing.

You know how dieters will note everything they eat for a week then analyze it? Determining what is needed, what is fattening, what was eaten purely out of boredom? Note every hour of every day for a week. How much did you write? What hours did you spend doing something you really didn't have to do? Tally.

With a wise eye, with a mature and open-minded viewpoint, decide what you spent time doing that really didn't mean squat to the universe.

Every day you make choices what to accomplish and what to put off. Chances are, your writing is in the latter category. Simply swap it with another task. Neglect something else.

One day you'll look back. You'll see all those precious moments spent dusting, watching American Idol, and eating seconds. The times you gossipped too long, cleaned unnecessarily, and Facebooked beyond reason. And you'll wish you'd written.

When writing is put off until everything else is done, you become known for everything else. You're not a runner until you put in the miles, build the legs, and run races. Even if that means leaving the bed unmade so you can run at dawn.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Perhaps I need to post this post of yours by the TV and on the refrigerator and by my social calendar?

Wonderful post...

Karen Lange said...

Ah yes, have been debating this very topic in my head over the past bunch of months. As much as I prefer to write, I allow other things to creep in. Working on prioritizing and cultivating more self control. Thanks for being a motivating influence. :)

BECKY said...

Hi Hope! I always enjoy your posts, as I'm sure you know, but I think this one is pure gold! So many wise words...I don't know which are my favorites. I'm going to e-mail you and ask for permission to share some of your wisdom! Thanks for always sharing!

Diva Jefferson said...

Your post names a good bit of problems that many face, but don't admit. Time is not your enemy, what you do with it is. Although I subscribe to Netflix, I do not watch TV shows. I think television is the biggest waste of time, then comes the internet/phone. We all neglect our writing sometimes. Unfortunately OCD is against mine and it's hard to leave the bed unmade, but I know in the end I am making a worthwhile sacrifice.

Glenda Beall said...

Hope, this is a needed post for most writers, especially women.
For years I felt compelled to sit with my husband and watch TV at night. When I got my laptop, I sat with it in my lap or I had something to do with writing in my hands. He passed away two years ago. I wish I had gotten my priorities in order before he became ill. I know my priority should have been spending time with him. I could write at another time.

Bagby said...

Wonderful, wise, and sorely needed, at least at my desk. Many thanks.

Jennie Brown Hakim said...

Even when you "don't" write, you as a writer can create a narrative (with words) about it. Isn't that cool?

Hope Clark said...

For instance, I have sudden guests coming tomorrow - sister in law and her hubby. However, I have an online presentation to make at 1 PM. They'll be here. My husband will just have to entertain them on his own for an hour and a half, because my writing appointment is that important to me. As a result, my guests will realize this must have been something very critical in my profession. Seriously ... giving your writing respect makes others respect it as well.

carol said...

I'm pressed for reading time lately and I need to read in the young adult genre since that's what I'm writing. So I've started getting these books on my ipod and listening to them while I walk. Now if I could only figure out how to get my ipod to grocery shop. . .

Writer Chick said...

You know this really hit home with me. I always save my writing for last. Not the writing I get paid for but the writing I long to do. As though I need to do other 'important' things first before I can reward myself with doing the writing I want to do - I dream of doing. Darn, you've really made me think here. Thanks, Hope, you're always an inspiration to me.