By Evan Braun
I’m moving this week, and it’s not just any move: I’m a first-time homeowner, which means the last few weeks—as well as this one—have been crammed full of appointments with lawyers, mortgage specialists, and insurance agents of many stripes. I’ve been budgeting up a storm, crunching numbers and writing cheques left, right, and center. I’m pricing out furniture, taking careful inventory of my personal possessions (including figuring out what home essentials I don’t own yet), making interior decorating decisions, and of course, packing. Oh my goodness, so much packing. I’m also downsizing a bit by selling a car, and this comes with some inconvenient but necessary trips to the mechanic. And then there will be the unpacking, reorganizing, and establishing of new routines. On top of all this, I still have to make time for my day job.
Oh right, and I’m also writing a new book, editing an old one, and preparing to release a third in less than a month.
When you’ve got so much on your plate, you have to prioritize. Every evening, I make a list of the things that need to happen the following day. You might think writing, editing, and book release stuff would be the easiest to postpone, the easiest to put at the bottom of the list. You’d be right. It’s much easier to leave my writing time until the end of the day, skipping it if I run out of time. Indeed, if writing comes last it’s almost certainly going to get skipped. That’s the whole point of making priorities, after all; when you can’t do everything, you put off the least essential.
Which is why it might be easy to put off writing and editing, but it’s also dangerous. Because working on my books is one of the most essential things I do on a given day. For that reason, even though it’s not easy, writing and editing and book release plans come first. The reality is that continued forward progress on my books is mandatory, so creative productivity is always at the top of my list—and the other stuff still manages to get done, though the days are often long and exhausting.
Making time for writing is part of a professional commitment I make to myself. Even when I don’t feel the muse knocking on the door of my psyche, I write. And I keep track of my progress to ensure I take a couple of forward steps every day. Did I write some new words? I record exactly how many in an Excel spreadsheet. Did I edit some old words? Recorded. Keeping these records also keeps me honest with myself, and it’s a handy way to admire my own progress over time.
You see, if writing is at the bottom of your priorities, you’ll never get around to it—at least, not with enough frequency to fashion a career. If you want to succeed in writing, you’ve got to treat it like your job. You wouldn’t just put off your job, would you? Not show up to work on time? Ignore your clients? Turn in your assignments late, or not at all? Of course not. You’d get fired. When it comes to writing, you are both your boss and your sole employee; the boss side of you must demand productivity while the employee side of you must be productive in the face of adversity. You don’t have to write twenty pages per day, not by any means, but one or two will keep your momentum going.
So try putting your writing first for a little while, and see what happens. I’m betting that it won’t take long for the rewards to become obvious.
How do you stay on track with your writing? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section!
About this Contributor:
Evan Braun is a full-time author and editor. He has authored two novels, the first of which, The Book of Creation, was shortlisted in two categories at the 2012 Word Awards. He has also released a sequel, The City of Darkness (2013), with a third entry in the series due later this year. As a professional editor, Braun has seven years of experience working with Word Alive Press authors. He is also a regular contributor at The Fictorians, a popular writing blog.