At age 11, I decided I wanted to be a writer.
At age 14, I completed my first story.
At age 16, I completed my first novella.
At age 17, I committed to college to study creative writing.
At age 19, I started work on a new novel.
At age 21, I graduated with a minor in Creative Writing and bookshelves lined with writing help books.
And now, I sit at home on my laptop and do all sorts of “productive” things—
I’m eight chapters into my current work and am at a standstill. Writer’s block? No. I have lots of ideas and am excited to implement them.
Then why don’t I?
I have the time to write. I just fill that time with other things, like cleaning, playing the Sims, watching Youtube videos and the like.
Therefore the writing just doesn’t get done.
I have no good excuse. I just don’t write.
You’re probably thinking, “What does this have to do with me?”
Hold tight. Here’s the tea, sis.
Adulting is a hard concept to grasp. It’s something that I have struggled with since I turned 17. It seems the older you get, the less time you seem to have. Especially now that I have a “big-girl” job and work 8am-5pm each day. I get home from work, grab dinner, clean, maybe work on my online job for a while, and before I know it, it’s bedtime.
It wasn’t until recently when I started looking back at my summer and I realized that I had been wasting my time, spending my evenings on things I get no reward from.
Computer games. *cough cough sims 4*
Video after video. (Studio C is my weakness.)
It’s not that these things are bad, but at the end of the day, do they make me a better person? Do they serve as a creative outlet? Do they fill me?
No. They don’t.
It’s no wonder that I spiraled into a phase of loneliness and depression. I found myself dissatisfied but doing nothing about it. I felt gross. My motivation and productivity plummeted. I became a version of myself that I did not enjoy.
So often I’d schedule out a block of time in my google calendar to work on a blog post or finish a chapter. But I lost the motivation and I kept bumping it back. An hour, a day, a week. Soon enough, two months had passed and I’d barely written a thing. My blog sat dormant for over a year, my novel sat untouched for a year and a half, I left an empty draft of a story I had been working on with a friend in my unfinished folder for seven months.
I was letting other people down, but more importantly,
I was letting myself down.
Over and over again.
Then I realized something weird. An inconsistency, if you will.
I’m always early for everything. Seriously. I showed up a half-hour early for my first job out of high school. Every shift.
When I worked at Meijer, I would stay late whenever asked, volunteered to clean up bathroom messes and always did what was asked of me with a smile.
I would sacrifice homework or sleep to stay up late chatting with a friend who was having a hard time.
I have always been paranoid about letting people down. I’m a very empathetic person, and that drives every part of me. Today I cried twice at work because several of the contacts I was calling hung up on me. I don’t ever want anyone to be disappointed in me, so I worked overtime to always make sure everyone was happy.
So why couldn’t I do the same for myself?
When I asked myself this question, I realized I didn’t have an answer.
When I slotted out time to work on a blog post, I was making a commitment to myself. When I said every Friday I was going to go to the library to write, I was making a commitment to myself.
Can you imagine if you told your boss that you would work on a certain project Thursday morning, and then when the time rolled around, you told her “Sorry, I don’t really feel like doing that.”
What if the commitments you made to yourself held the same weight?
What if, when you slotted out time, you honored it?
This mindset has completely shifted the way I manage my writing and my free time. By holding myself accountable, I find that writing is something that comes much easier. Instead of blocking out that time to writing if I feel like it, that time is dedicated to writing regardless.
I have no idea how many times I’ve had to tell people, “Sorry, I have to work.” Now I’m learning the beauty of,
“Sorry, I have to write.”
And yes, you have to. You’d be surprised what little fuss you get when you say you have to do something.
I’ve been practicing this with my mom. She asked me if I wanted to do something the other day, and I told her I had to work on my chapter, as it was ‘due’ the upcoming Saturday. She didn’t protest. She just said,
“Okay, just let me know when you’re done.”
It might not be writing for you. It might be practicing the piano or painting. It might be cleaning or journaling. It might be gardening or programming. But whatever it is that fills you, make time for it and honor that time.
It’s incredible the power I possess when I prioritize myself as much as I prioritize others. I still hang out with friends and volunteer and clean and do stuff with my family. But I have my designated writing time. And that’s something I am committed to.
So, if you ask me to hang out, don’t be upset when I tell you,
“Sorry, I have to write.”
That just means that I value myself as much as I value you.
What is something in your life that you need to make a priority?
What steps do you need to make sure that it gets done?