One of my missions is to write 1,000 words per day. Once I start writing, the clock ticks. It’s attainable only because I set it high on my list of priorities. You might be surprised at how many tasks in your life are not as necessary as you might think.
If you keep a blender going, the ingredients swirl and combine until you have a product that looks nothing like its original parts. But if you shut off that blender, and you let the pitcher sit there for a few hours, something will usually settle to the bottom… or float to the top.
All too often we just like to leave the blender running. The movement, the action, the act of busy-ness makes us feel productive. You know the type. You may be that type.
During the lockdown, I guested on a few sites via Zoom meetings. Frankly, I loved them. They gave me a connection to people without the travel, the hours or days spent getting there, and then the return home. In one of those meetings, someone took note of how many books I’d written and how many people subscribe to my newsletter — about my gardening, animals, and occasional involvement in community projects — and she asked how I juggled so much in my life.
She stated I sounded energized, which was probably more from nerves as a speaker that day, but still, they asked and wondered how I did all I did. I do not see myself in that light, so I pondered a second. I knew the answer, just not how to phrase it.
Is writing a priority?
At a point in my life, I took conscious note of my stated priorities. I decided then that, when something comes along that detracts from my priorities, I would decline.
One of my missions is to write 1,000 words per day when writing a book. Once I start the book, the clock ticks. The mission used to be 500 words, but once that became readily doable, the number doubled, and to this day continues to be an attainable task. But it became attainable only because I set it high on my list of priorities.
Someone else in that same Zoom chat asked me who does the cleaning and cooking to earn those precious hours of writing. Who ensures groceries are in the pantry or the yard is mowed? How did all the busy-ness of a normal family get taken care of to create writing time?
Here was a blender person, who liked keeping that motor going and the mixture always stirring.
My response wasn’t demeaning or critical, but it clearly and simply makes writing a priority.
- I clean when someone visits, or I tire of looking at the mess. But I write first.
- I cook when I have a desire to. Elaborate meals are only for special occasions. I write first.
- If I’m on a roll writing, my thoughts on fire, my husband knows he is on his own (and will often bring me something to eat).
- I tend to most needs, whatever the need is, once the writing is done.
Instead of looking for time to write after I’ve completed other tasks, I do the opposite. My dilemma is finding time to do all the other things.
Let your goals drive your time
We remain blenderized when we see all the activities in our lives as equally important as our goals or passion. As a result, we lose sight of our goals, our passion minimized, because they’re all mixed up in the other stuff.
Sometimes I sit on the front step of my house in the morning, listening to the birds, studying where the squirrel nests are, smelling what may be blooming in the woods. It’s a time to let my brain rest. A time to turn off the blender and let the ingredients settle.
I also think about writing. Such slow-down moments allow the brain to see through the fogginess of so much stuff we often feel we have to do (but we really don’t).
The pure entertainment of the storytelling is allowed to come through. Like thinking of a beloved book when the story sticks to us, we can let the pure joy of storytelling wander, take various paths, and converge before us as something worth telling.
Just this week, that 20 minutes of quasi-meditation told me to insert a dog in a scene and have him pay particular attention to a guy who was present. It made the scene more human and the main character used the dog to brush her hand against the man. The scene wasn’t much. The details were simple. But that moment mattered, took on new depth, and only came about because of the calm of the moment in which it was conceived on my doorstep.
You might be surprised at how many tasks in your life are not as necessary as you might think. Duties that aren’t duties at all.
Let’s turn your routine thinking on its head for a moment.
- Remove yourself from the center of all your busy-ness. Away from your home and your normal work. Maybe even from those you live with.
- Define your soul-touching goals, which, if you’re reading this blog, means they might be related to writing.
- Let your senses wander. All of them. They help empty your thoughts.
- Now, look at your normal day. What is not absolutely necessary, the key word being absolutely? In other words, what are you putting before your writing?
- Now, put your writing before all those things that comprise your day.
The habit doesn’t come easily. No habit does. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you’ll do this and that and then fit in the writing. Learn to say no. Define what you can live with and without.
Decide what’s important and let it lead you. Stephen King writes 2,500 words per day wherever he is. His words come before people, places, things, and the minutiae of just doing.
The more tasks you pack into your day, the more they mix together, the less form they take, and the less any one of them can be seen as your passion.
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Enhance Your Fiction With Facts
Advice For Writers: Embracing The Cycles Of Creativity
Find Success As A Writer By Focusing Your Energies
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