Monday, August 29, 2016

The Thief of Time

The life of a writer can be one of extremes. There's the hyper-socialization at events like Boucheron, and the countless hours of tucking oneself away to live in your head and flesh out the story you're trying to tell.

I think that blogs were initially a great experience for writers because they enabled us to connect, and that made the process of writing a little less lonely at times.

However, back when blogs were all the rage and everyone except Dennis Lehane had one to three they were posting on regularly, it was easy to get sucked down into the black hole of time theft.

And it's still easy to do that, just in other ways.

While I appreciate the support and motivation that comes from other writers at time, there came a point this summer when Marietta Miles summed up an issue for me; too much talk about writing instead of writing.

It's important to make sure that you balance your priorities, and that you don't let the sometimes fun activities get in the way of actually writing. Nobody needs to belong to five critique groups. Nobody needs to attend every marketing seminar. Nobody needs to take course after course when manuscripts are sitting unfinished, gathering dust.

At some point, we all have to put our big girl or boy pants on and get down to the business of being a serious writer if we want to be taken seriously. That doesn't mean don't socialize. It doesn't mean you have a support group you can be accountable to or run things by as needed.

It just means that your top priority remains the writing.

I had to shut off the world a bit this summer in order to get a manuscript done. Due to the fact that I did have a support group, and I was challenged by Mindy Tarquini to push myself out of my comfort zone, I ended up making significant changes I'd never expected to make. A month ago I wasn't even close to done, but over the past month I cut down my input and focused on the output.

Last night, I put the final touches on this manuscript and in a rare moment for me, I walked away happy with the ending and with a sense of satisfaction that I didn't think possible weeks ago.

I wouldn't have reached this point without motivation, but I also wouldn't have reached this point without prioritizing my time.

A person I knew (not an author or part of my network, but a schoolteacher) once got really snippy with me because they asked for a blog post and I wasn't able to produce one immediately. They pointed to another writer who'd come through when I hadn't, and they were a "bigger name."

I pointed out that they write full-time and that I balance full-time work and a family with my writing time. It's important to remember what your life responsibilities are when you commit your time to things. Prioritize. You don't need to take every publicity opportunity offered and you don't need to feel guilty for sometimes saying no.

You do need to make sure that you stay on track with your writing goals. After all, what's the point of every publicity opportunity if you never have anything ready to publish?

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