One of the most difficult parts about being a writer – particularly an unpublished one – is giving yourself priority.
It is so easy to dismiss your needs, because the only person who will know is you (and God. And your husband. And any other writers who might be holding you accountable.). But, the point is, I recently rewrote my daily schedule (yes, again, for those keeping track of how often I rewrite schedules), and put my start time at 8:30 AM.
This morning, at 8:30 AM, I was still cleaning the kitchen. I stopped, looked at the clock, looked at the mess around me, thought about all the things I still needed to do, and, as I very often do, began to shake my head and decide to put off writing because, as the non-working spouse, I should be responsible for doing household stuff, and it wasn’t important to “sign in” on time.
And then I stopped again, convicted of the very things I’ve been ruminating on lately. Why is my task so much less important, just because I am not (yet) being paid for it? Why do I get to slack off on it because I don’t have a boss? When I had a full-time job, I had to be at that computer working, no matter how messy the house was or if a meal had to be made. If I didn’t pack lunch the night before, I didn’t get it or had to pay for it. When I traveled, I took vacation or worked through the travel to get my work done and my hours in. And now, suddenly, I have a free pass for everything. I don’t work when I travel. I use any excuse to stop writing, telling myself it doesn’t matter anyway. I put all the household stuff and food ahead of my writing, as though I don’t know how to balance it from all my years working, and if errands need to be run, I’ll often run them during the work day.
Now, I’m not saying all of that is bad. After all, there are advantages to working for yourself and having a flexible schedule–but not when it comes at the cost of getting your job done. Because whether I’m being paid for it or not, I quit my job to get another job done, and it’s time to treat it like a priority.
And in case you are wondering, by 8:35 (okay, -ish), I was headed up to my office to work, with a stack of dishes still in the sink.