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?