Writing My Way: Sacrifice… Kinda, Sorta…

I’m realizing how much power can come from making something “a priority” in your life.  It causes you to look at everything you are spending your time on, weighing it out to decide if it is worth taking the time away from what you really want to be doing, thus causing you to look at all those things that take your time, and debate if they are worth it or not.  At least, this has been my experience.

For a long time I hesitated in “making myself write” because I did not want my enjoyable pastime to become a chore.  I did not write (fiction) unless I felt like it; I did not write unless the ideas flowed freely (or I was pretty convinced that they would if I got over that one obstacle).  If a new story idea caught my interest I would quickly abandon the old.  As for editing… editing was a thing I did rarely (outside of homework assignments for creative writing classes), because it wasn’t fun.

But this year I’ve had a renewed commitment to my writing.  I’ve begun to step away from my fear of failing enough to be willing to try. This willingness to try has translated into allowing my writing to become my work, not my job (that’s the thing that pays the bills), but work nonetheless.  Deserving of real time and attention.  Even when I don’t necessarily feel like it.

I’ll never be the kind of person who writes X-words a day.  I’ve tried, it doesn’t work for me.  I work it bits and pieces instead, some days I’ll pound out thousands of words, others I’ll be lucky to get 5.   But I know that I have to set aside SOME amount of time each week if I want to get things done, and I have to hold myself to that.

Which means occasionally having to say, “No” to things in order to make room for writing.   It means keeping my writing in my mind when I make decisions.  I have to sometimes be willing to prioritize my writing above other things.

These decisions are not always easy to make.  I would love to fill my weekends with social time with friends, vegging-out at movies, baking and cooking, and perhaps even some cleaning.  But if I do fill the weekends it means that I don’t have time to write, writing I need to do in order to make progress, and to stay on-top of my goals.

Would I like to jump to that project, or perhaps that other one, or oooh…shiny!?  Yes… of course.  But then other things get lost, and I never come to any real product.

Sometimes this means making challenging decisions.  Deciding where I want to place my energy and focus, paying close attention to what my dreams and goals really are and how I can reach for them.  Weighing the pro’s and con’s for any given opportunity and deciding if it is worth taking more time from my craft.

It’s frightening to make some of these decisions.  I can’t help but wonder if I’m making a mistake, chasing a pipe-dream.  Will I burn out in 6-months and find myself unable to push through?  Will I look back in a year and regret passing-up some of the things that I have said “no” to?

It comes back, always, to trusting my gut, listening to myself, and being willing to face the true challenges of following my dreams.

I know many of my readers are writers themselves, but I am sure there are some who have other crafts and art-forms.  What are some of the sacrifices you’ve made for your work?  Do you still think it was worth it?

IWSG badge

 This is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.  It is a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.

26 thoughts on “Writing My Way: Sacrifice… Kinda, Sorta…

  1. Making sacrifices for our art is meant to be part of the graft… but I admit that I hate the GR part… ggrrr. What you say is worthwhile as are your words. I count mine but never rigidly.Focus on one thing might be the secret. Just good to admit to insecurity… but then keep grafting. Most important thing is to pace yourself – forget about the expectations others force on us. Good luck. [And thanks for the link].

    Like

    1. Thank you for reading! I find if I focus too much it leads to burnout, so it is about balance — but also being willing to put something like my work into the place of importance.

      Like

    1. I used (created? Seuss has always been one of my heroes, so I’m all about word play) the word “Floundiferous” with a friend a ways back.. and now have it posted above my desk. And I had that constant nagging that I am simply being floundiferous. I can look back at this blog and see different dreams spark and flounder. In the past five years I have been through a roller-coaster of “what I want to be”… have I made the right decision now? It’s hard to trust the gut.. but yes, as I keep looking back at the decisions I’ve made so far (in regards to my writing) I think I’m going in the right direction. 🙂
      Thank you!

      Like

      1. I love that word! I totally get what you mean. I tend to flounder quite a bit too. I’m in awe of people who know early on what they want and just go and get it. Glad to hear you’ve finally found your direction!

        Like

  2. Oddly enough, I don’t feel I’ve given up anything for my art, per se. Writing is still a joy for me. I do think I’ve given over a huge chunk of freedom to the dream of being published. To be published, one must write even when one doesn’t want to, and yes, some days it is a soul suck.

    VR Barkowski

    Like

    1. It’s not just the vision of being published.. though I guess in a way it is… It’s writing and sharing that writing (in whatever form that may take). It’s making decisions about which paths to pursue — when opportunities are presented which ones do I pick, and which ones do I let fall to the wayside. Since I started looking at my writing as more than that thing I do in my off time (or when procrastinating) to share just with a friend or two, that’s when I started making these other decisions. I’ve felt it’s totally worth it (so far!) but with some bigger decisions coming up, I know that I am placing a lot of pressure on myself to “make the right ones.” And THAT is terrifying.

      Like

  3. X words a day doesn’t work for me either, and sadly neither does the “make myself write” business. I tried the “butt in the chair and write” exercise, but if it doesn’t come from within, it’s stuff I end up re-writing or deleting. Oh, well. Just let inspiration pull you there. I’m pretty sure it will.

    Like

    1. Been working on that! I’m also finding that there are certain activities I can do when I’m not feeling like writing that are more productive than others (like reading a book, or editing for a friend, rather than watching a movie or tv show. Or watching a movie or TV show that fits the mood/time I’m writing in rather than cleaning the kitchen.) It’s all a game of chance and luck and letting my stubbornness help rather than hinder. I think.

      Like

  4. Some things just have to fall by the wayside when you set goals like that. Some things I’ve missed, others I don’t even remember what they were.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far I feel like I’ve been doing okay in that regard… it’s still frightening to make the decisions! Especially with larger questions (do I take these classes, or not? Which career path do I continue on for what actually pays the bills (because I’m not going to pin that on my writing, dream of it, sure, but… bills don’t get paid on dreams!)? looming.

      Like

    1. Editing is starting to become a more integrated part of my work… working on the blog-story and doing both editing and writing at the same time (in different segments of the story) has actually been really good to help me see the ways in which it can help me out a lot (and even be enjoyable. This scene I need to write isn’t cooperating, fine, I’ll go and edit instead!) Having some people willing to read and give feedback has helped as well…
      Any good books on revising that you’d suggest?

      Like

  5. I’m not one to write a certain number of words per day either. I do it when I can and when I’m inspired. Forcing myself to do it takes away some of the fun for me. As far as sacrifices and priorities, it’s worth it for us to say no to other things. Our passion is ours and pursuing it matter. Great post!

    Like

    1. Thank you!
      I was afraid that forcing myself to write (and edit) would take away the fun, which is why I didn’t do that for a long time… but I’ve discovered that there are some ways I can encourage myself to write more, and to write when I may not really feel like it, which are a little gentler on me and don’t ultimately remove the fun of it… but it’s taken a while and those days when I just really don’t feel like writing I remind myself that there is no hard-fast rule that I have to write every day. Yesterday I gave myself “permission” to take an evening off from writing or editing or really being productive in any way, with no feeling of guilt about it… and it did wonders!

      Like

  6. Simple answer – monetarily no, writing isn’t worth while right now. Mentally though, yes. I would write even if no one paid me. It makes me happy. Having dreams keeps us alive, reminds us there is more to life that what is in the now. So all in all – its worth it! Keep on writing.

    Like

    1. I always find it interesting to see what different people pull out of a piece of writing. Having my writing be monetarily worth is didn’t even really cross my mind — that’s what the career decisions have been about, finding work that will allow me to pay my bills while still having the time/energy to write, deciding what work will help compliment my writing the best, and which ones will prove a distraction.
      Thanks!

      Like

  7. You mentioned that for a long time you hesitated in “making yourself write” but this year you have a “renewed commitment to your work.” With this new attitude comes having to say, “No” to things in order to make room for writing. That is so understandable.
    The writerly journey IS a long one. Things change along the way, because we, as humans, are constantly evolving… so we go through phases.
    As we evolve, we create new goals, priorities change and there are new decisions to be made.
    Change is good as long as it’s positive. It means we are prepared to move out of our comfort zones and experience new things.
    Positive change = growth!

    With regards to “gut instinct” it’s been discovered that decision making based on instinct has surprisingly positive outcomes, up to 90% accuracy… we have to be able to trust ourselves. Easier said than done, I suppose! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Especially for the reinforcement of the idea of trusting my gut. I’ve been trying to REALLY listen, and I think I’m making the right decisions… now to avoid self-sabotaging (but that’s a whole post to itself!)

      Like

  8. One of my novels was published almost a year ago, with a second one coming out in just a couple months. It’s been a ride! Being published in collections or compilations is fun, but completely different. Your first novel is the launch of your true career. Now keep that in mind when making this commitment: CAREER. It means (AFTER publication) 10+ years of spinning your wheels for little to no pay in order to build a long and lasting readership. It may work. It may not. The questions is why? Why do you want it? You have to weigh that along with your realistic expectations of how this experience will play out. I might not have minded staying a hobby writer for the rest of my life, but a contest I entered on a whim ended up leading to a publisher, and it’s been utter insanity ever since. Good insanity, but still mind-consuming. If all you want out of writing is to eventually share a couple of your works, take it easy. Enjoy the road. If you’re gunning for recognition and $$, you’ve got a long, hard road ahead.

    Like

    1. And THAT is the decision that has made it more real and more challenging. I’m setting myself up for the reality that I may not ever be able to make actual money (as in, a decent amount) from my writing, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t what I want. Since graduating high school (about 15 years ago now), I’ve cycled through what I’ve wanted my “career” to be: teacher (elementary, high school, college), Religious Educator, Minister, Museum Worker, etc. But recently I had the opportunity to step back and look at what the thread through all of it was: Every single one of these was looked at as “the job I would do to pay the bills, so that I could write.” The shift has been to this idea that, instead of looking for a job I love to help support me as I write, why not have a job that I enjoy-enough that will really allow me to focus on writing… in the dream that someday maybe I can drop the job and have writing be my real career. The long path of spinning my wheels and seeing little progress doesn’t intimidate me (as much as I know it probably should), because I feel as though I am finally at a point of being ready for it. Ready to commit to my writing, ready to commit to a career that might never take hold because it is my passion and it is what I want to do with my life. I’ll settle for having just some of my work out in the world for people to read but, not going to lie, there is a definite drive to have recognition as an AUTHOR and to be able to make money from that work. I write for myself, sure, but it isn’t enough and I want more from my work.
      And, thank you…. because writing my response to your comment has really helped to solidify some things in my mind and helped me to make some final decisions about saying “no” to a few things that I’d been floundering on.

      Like

  9. The key is finding what works for you and then doing that. If bits and pieces writing works, stick with it. It’s how I write. If I “stick to a schedule” it feels too much like work and I stop. Nice to meet you and thanks for stopping by my IWSG post the other day! ~Jen

    Like

    1. Yeah.. contributing to the mantra I’ve been trying to remind myself: “We all work differently, we all go through life differently, there is no one ‘RIGHT’ way or RIGHT place to be”… life at my own pace and on my own journey, writing at my own pace and on my own journey.

      Like

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.