Writer Wednesday: Priorities

What really matters most?

Whether you think about it consciously or not, you’re always making choices. What matters most to you may vary from moment to moment throughout your day. You may not realise it all the time, but you’re ranking everything that comes your way, often in a casual way and frequently without much reflection.

Unless you live in a quiet monastic setting, chances are you are juggling a lot. Family, work, leisure, travel, groceries, budgets — the list goes on and on. Somewhere in there might be writing. Wouldn’t it be better to make those choices consciously? Mindful attention always improves our days and like the time inventory form, attention to how your prioritize your life will pay off with more and better writing.

So take out a piece of paper and list the things that are most important to you: be honest and frank. This is a private exercise, so no one needs to see it but you. Be specific. Avoid vagueness by focusing on goals not just “things”; when it comes to writing, don’t just put “writing” as your priority. Try phrasing it as “finish that short story” or “complete first draft of chapter one” rather than the broad and daunting task of writing the whole novel.

For most people, writing may not be number one: chances are family is there. What’s important is not the ranking, but making sure you know where things go. Reassess your priorities periodically. Remember this is a dynamic process. Be honest, be specific, be mindful.

After all, you set the agenda for your writing process. The pace, the goals — they’re up to you. Like Aesop’s tale of the tortoise and hare, getting there is the important thing — getting some writing done consistently if modestly — not the pace at which you accomplish it. Better to have small gains consistently than to push yourself to impossible goals or create resentment because you’re not giving time to all the things that matter to you.

Living well is the best thing. Be true to your self.

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