Today, I barely wrote anything. I spent a bunch of time on Facebook reading really great articles about books and writing and posting really great articles about books and writing. I did some work for Relay For Life. I put together a suggested structure for the book I’m co-writing with a client. I talked to a descendant of one of the people who was enslaved here. I did a lot of things, but writing wasn’t really one of them.
I could say that I didn’t have time to write, but that wouldn’t be true. I had just as much time as anyone else; I just didn’t choose to spend my time writing.
That’s the thing – many of us (myself fully included) – say we don’t have time to write. We have children and full-time jobs and church obligations and dishes to wash, and these things make it so we don’t have time to write. But that’s not really true. Instead, the truth is that we chose to use our time doing things other than writing . . .
And you know what, that’s okay, as long as we then don’t beat ourselves up because we didn’t write, and as long as we don’t shift responsibility to this amorphous idea of “time” and blame it. We have to own that we sometimes have things in our lives – that rightly or wrongly, but often rightly – have to be a higher priority than our writing time: raising children, paying jobs, time with friends – all of those are amazing, legitimate things to prioritize.
The question, though, is what priority do we want our writing to have in our lives – if it’s somewhere near the top, then it may require us sacrificing other things to keep it there. Shawn Smucker gave up some financial security when he passed on lucrative jobs and started Building a Life Out of Words; others give up other hobbies to get writing time in the evenings after work; some of us sacrifice a little sleep.
But then, in this, writing is no different than anything else in life. Life is about choices – what will we give our time to, and what will we let pass by?
Today, I left the writing mostly pass by, and I’m a little sad about that. But I won’t make myself feel guilty; I can’t get that time back after all, and besides I did important, good things today in those hours. Tomorrow, I will wake and try again, pushing my writing a little further up the priority ladder.
What are your top priorities? Where does writing fall on that list? Can it move up if you want it to? If not, can you give yourself the grace to say, “It’s okay?”