Thursday, April 24, 2008


I get these delightful daily e-mails called "Notes from the Universe" from Totally Unique Thoughts. Today, the message was so perfectly targeted to what I have been working on lately, I am not sure it wasn’t really sent by the Universe.

My message for today:

Actually, Kim, when you think about it, everything boils down to priorities. Everything.

And that's a lot.

The Universe

Priorities. Of course. This goes right along with details and the habit of writing. This feels important. It is deepening my thoughts on exactly how I want to build my writing life. I can feel that setting my priorities, verbalizing them, writing them down, is a great way to focus myself, a great way to steer myself toward my ultimate goal of a writing career.

The overarching priority is writing, obviously. But there are other priorities, and they shift from day to day depending on what else needs to happen just then. Some days only writing will matter—those days when I have an article due or a rewrite to finish or some other writing task that needs to be done. But other days things like dishes, housecleaning, grocery shopping, a friend’s birthday party will need to happen alongside the writing.

I was about to write yet again about how difficult this balancing act is. But suddenly I'm thinking that this isn’t as big an issue as I have been making it. It’s just a matter of “pick something and do it.” And that is where I tend to fall short, the actual doing part of the equation.

I spend a lot of time being resentful that I need to cook and clean, wash dishes, vacuum the rug. I resent these tasks, so I don’t do them. But I don't do anything else either, except waste time and fret. If I were to just do these things, I could get on to the other things like writing that I generally also don’t do because I feel too guilty over not doing the "chores."

Maybe the real problem I am dealing with here is inertia! I can overcome inertia! I'll start with small activities to build the “do it” habit. I'll spend a few minutes each morning writing a list of what I’m going to accomplish that day—something more detailed than a “to do” list. Something that won’t let my mind pretend that I’ve already done a task when I really only brushed against the surface of it.

I think the key here is to be really specific about my priorities, both on the overall level and the daily level. I need to regularly set the intention to do the things I need to do to put my priorities ahead of the trivia that can so easily get in the way. And then I need to be really specific about what needs to happen each day, week, month, etc., to honor those priorities. I need to actually be writing this stuff down, at least while I’m building these writing life habits. And then I need to do the things on my list. You know, like Nike says: "Just do it!"

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