Saturday, March 5, 2011

Is Writing a Priority?

What are the priorities in your life? Is it a job, your family, friends, hobbies, watching television - what? Where does writing fall into that list?

For many writers, writing is secondary to something else. For me, I have a job, with unusual hours, that helps pay the bills. I also have a family which includes humans and animals, and they all need attention. And a house which also needs attention from time to time, although housework isn't high on my list. And we have a yard which, though pretty low maintenance, could be better groomed and designed.

I've made it a priority to attend a weekly writing critique group. It keeps me somewhat accountable with my WIP, wanting to have pages to bring in to read. Plus critiquing others' writing helps improve my own. And it gives me a much-needed social experience with people who understand the writing process.

But I still haven't gotten into the "write every day" mindset that a lot of others have. It seems as if that's a mantra of many successful writers. Come hell or high water, they're writing.

I traveled to the other side of the country recently for an unexpected family event and took my laptop, but didn't get much, if any, writing done. Too many distractions. Sorrow. Planning. Family to take care of and spend time with. Or those were my excuses, anyway. Valid, I think. But maybe someone else would have found time to scratch out some lines on paper, or write some at night at the hotel, while spouse was watching tv.

Some days I have bits of downtime at my job when I could be outlining, or editing, or trying to solve plot problems. I carry a folder around with me that has my basic WIP info in, with characterizations, plot bullet points and the last few pages. I could progress, move ahead ... but I usually don't.

Why? What will it take for me to push my writing ahead, make it a priority?

I'm working through the mushy middle now of a cozy mystery. I've finally figured out Who Dun It but that's caused more problems. :-) So now I need to address those, make it all fit together.

I have a deadline in mind. I want to be finished with the first draft by mid June, so I'll have it ready to query in early August. There's a writer's conference with Open Pitch nights, with agents that listen to three-minute pitches and give suggestions on querying. Last year I went just to watch. This year I want to pitch.

I'd better get my game on.


  1. This is a really good post. I think many of us are in the same situation. Writing/critique groups are a must to keep us on the path and to get help and encouragement from other writers. Although I don't usually write every day, I do take the plunge during November and take the NaNoWriMo challenge and pound in over 1,600 words a day. By the end of November I have at least 50,000 words of a first draft.

  2. I don't know what the magic formula is that transforms a person into Super Writer. I used to make excuses and let things get in the way. Now I don't. I can't put my finger on what changed.

    If it's any consolation, I don't write everyday. However, when it's time to write, I write and I don't let anything stop me. I think you have to find a pattern that works for you. That doesn't mean you don't need discipline, just that you need to find your own rhythm.

  3. I don't write every day either. It take a goal—a WIP and a deadline—and/or passion to get me moving. And I don't think that's a problem!

    You've got the WIP and the deadline. Great start!

  4. I wish I had lots of time to write. I will often sit down to do so and then something happens, usually in dealing with my husband who has frontal lobe dementia as well as other medical problems. I becomd frustrated, worried, emotional and often end up giving up.
    Maybe one day I will have that freedom and lack of distraction and worry.

  5. Rose, your poetry is always amazing to me. I hope you do find the time to keep it up. Your voice deserves to be heard.