Last year, I joined a number of writers in Resolution 2011 – Write Every Day or Pay. For every day I didn’t write in the year of 2011, I would donate $1 to the charity of my choice. (I chose Joy2theWorld, an organization that supports women in Ghana.)
Making this resolutionand keeping track of how many days I wrote caused me to make a revelation. I probably spend too much time writing for a person with a full time job in another field. It would be one thing if writing was my sole career, but doing it on top of teaching sometimes squeezes out everything else I should be doing.
To say I’m driven to write is an understatement. When I started to keep track in 2011, it quickly became apparent just how much writing I actually do: drafting new words, revising and editing old ones, blog posts – and even comments to other people’s blog posts, because I take the time to try and compose something interesting even in a comment. If “great post” is all I have to say, then I usually don’t bother. And what about responding to the writing of my critique partners? At first I didn’t think beta reading somebody else’s manuscript counted as “my writing,” but I teach my fifth grade students that “peer conferencing” is part of the writing process. So, if I’m helping another writer plan revisions and editing that improves their writing, then I am writing; aren’t I?
What I learned is: constant writing can be draining and frustrating and sometimes self-defeating. Instead of trying to write every day, I should be learning when to take breaks – get some exercise, spend time with the family, read a book, watch some TV, go to bed a little earlier.
I stopped keeping track of my days somewhere in the middle of 2011 and decided to just match my opening donation to Joy2theWorld — which I did today.
And in 2012 – I’m sure I will do A LOT of writing. But hopefully, I’ll also have the sense to know when to step away from it … and breathe.
Such a wise post, Dianne. I struggle with this, too. Ever since I started writing, it’s sort of swallowed me up. And I don’t even try to write every day–only on the weekends and days set aside for it. Still, it’s mentally as well as physically occupying, so I think your resolution to be more balanced is one I need for myself!
I’ve never heard of this charity. What an excellent idea. Maybe it’s the motivation I need.
You, on the other hand, are amazing if you have a full time job and still manage to write. Have a productive 2012 (I know you will).
Very good advice. God has been laying on my heart that some days I spend too much time writing. I’m trying to cut back and spend more time with family and friends…but it is difficult. Seems there is always something that needs to be written, read, reviewed, edited, etc.
Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.
You are very wise, Diane. I think it’s during the breaks in my writing where I learn the most about myself. Being a writer is a ‘whole person’ act. When I first began writing, I didn’t understand that. My life-past, present, and future-affect my writing. I need to live (including taking breaks to live) to grow as a writer.
Still working on perfecting this theory, though. 🙂
I feel a lot of guilt when I don’t write and I hate that feeling. It’s hard to find a balance. I hope you find it in this new year 🙂
Great post! Even people who write full time would be wise to take your advice. Taking time to read, get out of the house–to breathe–is necessary. Like cross-training for an athlete, it actually increases productivity.
Balance! Where can I get me some of that?
hi miss dianne! great post! ha ha. yep! for sure you gotta take out time for other stuff. i love writing but if i would never get to play a computer game or go at the movies or watch tv it thats all i did. i wouldnt go to school. hmmm thats not a bad idea. ha ha. im just glad your gonna do some stuff besides write this year.
…hugs from lenny
I don’t suppose it’s particularly healthy for us to concentrate solely on any one facet of our lives, but striking the right balance is never easy. But with all you do, I’m convinced your days are filled with more hours than mine.
These are very much inspiring resolutions and revelations indeed. Thanks for this valuable informative one.
But. I . Can’t. Stop. Writing!
I thought about doing that donation thing, too but quickly realized they wouldn’t get much since I write almost everyday in one fashion or another. I think I’m trying to make up for all those years when I approached writing in a sort of half hearted way.
There are certainly many ways that bloggers suggest to get one writing. But I think we all have to find our way. It’s good to breathe. There are other things in life, I think, that need pursuing. I’m a full time caregiver, and I’m much older that you young writers out there! So I’ve had to learn not to push myself as a writer.
I saw your comment at Susan Swderski’s, where she reviewed my memoir, and came over to meet you. I went over to Amazon and read the reviews of We Hear the Dead. I’m impressed! I also love YA stories. I read them when I was a YA, and still like them because inside I consider myself still a YA! I have put your book on my TBR list. I wish you much success with it and with your other writing endeavors for the year 2012. Enjoy the journey!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs
Thanks for the inspiration. I got my Facebook group up and running!