Prioritising

Writing is a lonely business. One person sitting in a room on their own, their attention totally focused in their manuscript. The family and friends of that writer often asking why they are wasting their time. It’s sad that those same family and friends couldn’t find it within themselves to be supportive and encouraging.

Then the writer finds the internet and discovers they are not alone. There are hundreds, thousands, of people in the world who think just like they do. What a wonderful discovery. The writer joins writing communities, develops writing websites, joins critique groups and they start to make new friends to chat to and share their views and knowledge.

However, in doing this they forget to do one thing – they forget to write. Their time is absorbed with many writing projects, but rarely the actual writing that they love so much. The writer becomes distracted.

This happened to me.

I recently discovered that for two years I’ve talked about writing more than I’ve actually written. For two years I became so consumed in building communities to help other people that I forgot to help myself. This is a form of procrastination. Everything else took priority, everyone else was seen to first but then I found myself, two years later, with nothing more than two short stories to show for my time.

It took me six months to wean myself off of my internet activities. Six months! That’s how bad I was affected. During that time I doubted my ability so much that I actually decided to stop writing. Forever. I decided to lock away my manuscripts, close down the message board, let this website fade into nothingness and disappear from the internet world. It was time to find another interest. Right! That was easier said than done. The plots refused to leave my head. I tried to rid myself of them, but they would not budge. So, what does a writer (a former writer) do in this instance?

They write.

However, this time they change their ways. This time they put their own writing first. This time they really write and don’t just talk about it.

Eight weeks ago, I was at rock bottom. Yet the urge to write was stronger than I could ever imagine and at the beginning of September (only four weeks ago), I started a new phase of my writing. I did lock the old manuscripts away and I might still close down the message board in the future but the addiction I once had, no longer has a hold over me. I finally have my priorities right. It was a hard lesson to learn.

If you are a writer who feels the urge to help everyone else at the expense of your own writing, please consider my words. While you are helping other writers, those same writers are helping themselves. Be selfish, put your own writing first.

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