Monday, February 13, 2012

Priorities in the Writing Life

As writers we are constantly bombarded by demands, either outside or self-imposed. With this in mind, we all need to define our priorities. For me they sort out as follows:

1. Family and friends – Although writing is important, family is number one. When our kids and grandkids are visiting or when we’re visiting them, I do little writing. Since they live in different parts of the country, it’s a treat for my wife and me when we can get together with them, and during these visits grandkid activities take top priority.

2. Writing – Not promoting, not social networking, but actual writing is the next on my list. Nothing ever gets written unless I’m brainstorming, outlining or putting my hands on the keyboard. I include editing in this process as well, since I go through numerous editing passes on each manuscript I write.

3. Exercise – I try to get out for exercise every day. This keeps me both physically and mentally fit. I walk, hike, snowshoe and play platform tennis. Walking provides another benefit—it’s a time I practice my speeches and brainstorm on my current writing projects.

4. Critique groups – I’m in two online critique groups, and these are the next priority for me because this is how I tune my writing through critiquing others and getting feedback to improve my manuscripts.

5. Promoting my current novels – I do numerous events including book signings and speaking at service organizations. My current talk is titled, “How to Survive Retirement.” It advocates a positive image of aging and is a platform to indirectly promote my geezer-lit mysteries.

6. Selling manuscripts – This includes searching for a new agent and sending manuscripts to publishers. I have sold ten contracts myself and keep working on new opportunities.

7. Social networking – Some may place this higher on their list, but for me it hits number seven. I focus on Facebook, follow a number of Yahoo loops and do some Twitter and LinkedIn.

8. Administrative stuff – in last place is all the administrivia that needs attention. Being a morning person, I write in the morning, exercise in the middle of the day and do administrative tasks in the afternoon.

So this is my short list. I’d enjoy hearing how others set their priorities.

7 comments:

Jackie King said...

My list of priorities are very similiar to yours, Mike. I agree that family comes first, however, when family lives in the same area some rules have to be applied:
1) Grandma Jackie will babysit, but this must be by appointment (except in case of emergencies when, of course, I'm immediately available.)

On my daily list of to-dos, there are three things:
1) Write (yes, this means fingers on keys.)
2) Pray/meditate. Essential for my physical, mental and creative well-being.
3) Exercise. For me this is walking.

I loved this post!
Jackie

Jackie King said...

My list of priorities are very similiar to yours, Mike. I agree that family comes first, however, when family lives in the same area some rules have to be applied:
1) Grandma Jackie will babysit, but this must be by appointment (except in case of emergencies when, of course, I'm immediately available.)

On my daily list of to-dos, there are three things:
1) Write (yes, this means fingers on keys.)
2) Pray/meditate. Essential for my physical, mental and creative well-being.
3) Exercise. For me this is walking.

I loved this post!
Jackie

Mike said...

Thanks for the comments, Jackie. Good add with the pray/meditate.
Mike

Jaden Terrell said...

Nice list, Mike. To mine, I have to add the day job that pays the bills--at this time of year, it seems to be a day and night and weekend job, but for mow I'm grateful to have it.

Earl Staggs said...

Your priorities are prettymuch in line with mine, Mike. I really need to put more emphasis on the exercising, tho. Writers tend to develop nimble fingers, but neglect the rest of the body.

Jaden Terrell said...

Too true, Earl. I really need to move exercise up on my list of priorities. Seems like when something has to go, it's the first to get cut.

Jaden Terrell said...

Too true, Earl. I really need to move exercise up on my list of priorities. Seems like when something has to go, it's the first to get cut.