What Are Your Priorities? And What That Means for Writing

Posted September 25, 2014 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 4 Comments

writing-priorities

A lot of what I hear in The Writing Sidekick, especially on Mondays when I ask people to share their goals, are lots of plans and good intentions. By the time Friday rolls around, not everyone has been able accomplish what they set out to do.

And even though not meeting your goal can be frustrating, it’s okay.

It’s okay because writing can’t always be your top priority

You have family, friends, a job (even full-time writers have to market and promote), home, and multiple other people or things in your life that require your attention. They deserve your time and focus.

And while many are good at carving out time for writing , what gets harder is determining your priorities. Because invariably, we want to do more than we can reasonably accomplish.

You can’t publish a blog post three times a week and write 2,000 words a day and have a full-time job and have time left over for your family. You can’t churn out 4,000 words/day when you’re going through a transition in life (a move, new job, new living circumstances).

Something’s got to give.

When I got overwhelmed in grad school, I used to put aside my to-do list and focus on the one or two items most important in that moment—usually an assignment due soon or lesson plans. By giving priority to that task, I was able to get it done faster and not feel as overwhelmed.

Take a look at all you’re doing—not just writing, but everything else on your plate—and rank what’s most important.

You could decide your writing is more important than your blog and change your schedule from three posts to one per week. I made the decision to only post at Amanda Shofner when I had an update on my books or something of interest so I could focus on my writing (both on this site and my books).

Maybe you decide your family should have more time with you, so you cut down on your writing time. Or you could find yourself in a new job, with the mental drain and exhaustion (though a good kind!) that accompanies it, and reduce your word count goals, because that job pays your bills and gives you the freedom to continue writing.

Or maybe, you decide your writing is more important than social media surfing, and carve out social media free time to write more. Ahem.

Sometimes, my mental health becomes my number one priority, and I drop everything for an afternoon or day and do something for myself. Your priorities will be different, but no less important.

A lot of frustration and annoyance comes from not understanding our priorities and trying to do it all

When you make something a priority, you give yourself to it completely. That means your decisions reflect your commitment. (Hint: if your decisions don’t reflect your priority, something else is competing for top spot; figure out what it is.)

But knowing your top priority also means you don’t guilt trip yourself over not accomplishing a lower priority—and you don’t compare your progress to others’. Because guilt and comparison don’t accomplish anything.

I may set out at the beginning of the day intending to read, but if other things in life pop up (work, spending time with family), I’m going to embrace those and kick reading to another day—for me, work and spending time with family come before reading (just not for the same reasons!). No guilt, no recriminations.

Tell me: what are your priorities? And do your goals reflect them?

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4 responses to “What Are Your Priorities? And What That Means for Writing

  1. Hey Amanda

    Your every post SPEAKS to me. Thank you for these timely and powerful posts!

    Yes, PRIORITY is my BIGGEST ISSUE.

    a. I help 3-5 friends with their blogging and transcription needs.
    b. I am still battling a poor body image (and eating disorder), which severely knocks down my productivity
    c. I bought a domain name 6 months ago, but haven’t done anything with it yet because something else keeps coming up
    d. I am moving to a new home soon
    e. I want to read more because my new website – whenever that gets launched 😉 – is going to have a section for book reviews
    f. I take part in the Facebook Blogging Challenge, which takes time too
    g. I need to spend some time with my poor husband <note: he is always my last priority 😉 KIDDING! )

    Even as I re-scan this list, I realize that my yet-to-be-launched website weighs heavily on my mind. If I could just face my fear, shun procrastination and take it one step at a time, I might feel better….it just seems like an insurmountable obstacle right now! *sigh*

    Anyway, thanks again, Amanda #HUGS

    Kitto

    • Hey! I know how it feels to be facing what looks like an insurmountable obstacle. But sometimes it just seems that way because we make it into one, huge project that looms over us rather than breaking it into smaller, manageable tasks. What’s one task you can do TODAY that will move your website in the right direction? It doesn’t have to happen all at once! 🙂

      PS. I highly suggest checking out Nicole from Life Less Bullshit. She’s got awesome advice along these lines (in fact, I can’t find the post it belongs to, but I’m pretty sure my “just one thing” advice above is from her).

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