Carving out time for creativity—whether that be writing or any other creative task—can be a challenge. Since I write and edit for others as my day job, I found I was putting off my own writing until everyone else’s got done. The positive side of that is that I’m disciplined about my work and good at meeting deadlines. The negative side? I was obsessing over everyone else’s work to the point that I was ignoring my own. I left a successful journalism career several years ago to become a freelance writer and editor and “be my own boss.” While that has worked out well, and I wish I had started my own business sooner, I was still letting everyone else’s work be “the boss” of my time.
Then one day, my critique partner, Debbie, offered a simple but enlightening solution: “Why don’t you do your work first?”
Wh-wh-what? Do my work first? How on earth could that possibly work? Reader, it works.
First, I gave up my morning hour or so of watching cable news. That one schedule change in and of itself ended up being a gift and not a sacrifice. I’ve come to realize that writing and editing a novel involves a very different kind of focus than, say, writing a press release for a client. I aim to do both projects as well as possible, but I’ve written so many press releases that I can whip those out in no time. My fiction writing, however, gets that first sacred hour of the workday. I’ve learned that I treasure this quiet hour of the morning when I’m tapping away at my computer, showing that I value my personal creative life by giving it some attention. And for me, it required giving up something but then gaining much more in return—a new focus and a lengthier manuscript.