Being busy sucks, except when it doesn’t
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to prioritize writing with day-to-day life hovering over you. As a college student with two jobs, a business, and a life-after-graduation waiting for me like a giant seven-headed monster at the gates of hell, I have spent most of my time busy out of my damn mind. The kind of busy that sucks: long days spent banging my head against a wall because I’m not quite sure what the point of another argumentative essay is. This kind of busy is a lot of things—mainly frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming—but it’s definitely not fulfilling.
At the same time, the life I’ve always envisioned myself is one in which I’m busy. Full days, some long nights, and hours and hours spent at my desk writing.
So, what’s the difference?
One type of busy makes me feel useless, monumentally unproductive, and (tbh) dead inside. The other type of busy makes me feel, well, ALIVE.
Over the past year—especially in quarantine—I’ve come to realize that I have far too little of the ALIVE, fulfilling kind of busy in my life and far too much of the dead inside kind. And sure, I’m a student and school work is important, but prioritizing creative, fulfilling work is a choice, and it’s one I needed to make.
So, what had to change?
Up until recently, I had myself convinced that writing would just end up being a hobby, not a full-time job. I knew it was my dream, but I didn’t acknowledge that dream because a part of me didn’t believe in it. A part of me doubted that I would ever be good enough to get there. This was the first thing that had to change: my mindset.
The second thing that had to change was my day-to-day: my plan. For most of last year (and honestly, the majority of my life), my day-to-day consisted of homework, homework, and more homework. I made giant, overwhelming to-do lists complete with everything I could think of that needed to get done, and writing was always at the bottom of that list. I always prioritized the things other people asked of me–things like homework, tutoring, and extracurriculars–and despite the busy schedule, those things left me feeling unfulfilled and exhausted almost every day.
Finally, I needed to change the way I went about writing: the actual action. Not only did I treat writing as something to do when (and if) I had free time, but I also made it excessively difficult for myself to do the work I needed to even when I did have the time. What do I mean by this? Well, I had no routine, no sacred space or writing time, and no hard and fast rules for myself. In other words, I was not disciplined when it came to writing, and that contributed to both my lack of writing and my feeling of being unfulfilled.
Now, onto the juicy stuff…
How to prioritize writing in your day-to-day life (a 5 step guide)
As a start, follow the five steps below. Flip to a blank page, write out the answers to some of the questions, and reflect along the way! What works for you? What should you do more of? How can you implement intentionality into your routine?
These are the steps I followed to prioritize writing in my day-to-day life, and even little changes like scheduling my writing time had a HUGE impact on my feeling of fulfillment at the end of the day.
First, get clear on your “why.” Why do you write and why do you want to prioritize it?
Next, reflect. Reflect about your life, your writing, how you’re feeling, and what you need. What does a fulfilling life look like for you? What are you working towards?
Set your goals. What are your short and long-term writing goals? What do you want to accomplish by the end of the week, month, and year?
Make a plan. What writing-related work do you need to get done to reach your goals? When will you do that work? Set a sacred hour or day or time for writing and schedule it!
Take action. Now, it’s time to execute your plan and hold yourself to it. You’ve prioritized writing through your mindset and your plan, so it’s time to make the work happen day after day. What can you do to make taking action easier for you (whether it’s making coffee ahead of time, getting a notebook you really love, lighting a candle, or something else)?
You’ve got this! I believe in you.
With Love, Cats, and Coffee 💖,
The Present Active Writer
P.S. Having a hard time getting clear on what a fulfilling life means to you? Check out my blog post to learn 5 Ways to Fight for Yourself in 2021.