Back to Basics: Identify your Literary Priorities and Develop a Sustainable Creative Life, Part 2
by Diane Rogers
Whether you are an emerging or established writer, the onset of autumn offers an ideal time to reassess your goals and objectives. If you find yourself in an emotional tug-of-war with your literary routine, it may be time to refocus and reignite your practice.
In part one, The Write Mind got back to basics by examining the importance of identifying your literary purpose. Understanding your motivations (the why’s) for writing helps build robust habits that keep you on track and feeling good about your work.
After clarifying your literary purpose, the next step is to define your priorities. But instead of asking traditional questions about focus such as, “Am I dedicating my time, attention, and energy in proportion to my purpose?” begin to think of prioritization as a relationship.
Defining who you are working with builds a clearer picture of how to work with your literary practice.
Let me explain.
Priority as Partnership
As humans, we’re wired for relationship, so viewing your creative practice as a relationship helps you work in partnership with it.
When your literary purpose has business leanings, it becomes a professional relationship replete with accountabilities, responsibilities, and expectations.
Remuneration (whether aspirational or actual) makes writing The Boss, which means you will need to prioritize and schedule accordingly. No office romance here, just hard—albeit rewarding—work.
Professional is as professional does, and the time and effort you put in will reflect this relationship.
Companions add joy and playfulness to our lives. If this describes your sense of literary purpose, you probably adore your creative muse and find satisfaction in its company. Admitting this doesn’t make you less serious or skilled.
It means you make time for it because it makes you happy. For you, creativity is a cup-filling activity.
Would you love to get paid the big bucks? Sure. Would you write for minimal or no compensation? Yes!
If your literary relationship is a creative companion, it is one of many fulfilling attachments in your life. For you, a flexible routine helps keep your creativity flowing and stress at bay.
Are you a closet writer? Do you find excuses to sneak away and engage in a private love affair with your imagination? A furtive literary relationship—an hour here and there, penned notes on cocktail napkins, the odd secluded weekend away—may start out as thrilling, but when you treat writing like an affair, chances are you’re probably not being honest about your creative needs. Like any other secret, you’re bound to get caught.
Instead, why not bring your aspirations out of the dark? When you give writing a respectable role in your life, it increases importance; you will make time for it. Be open with those who might not understand your creative “me-time.” Explain that creative time provides the opportunity to connect with the heartbeat of your spirit, to feel alive. In an often soul-sucking world, creativity is your oxygen mask. Put it on, then invite your loved ones to do the same.
Sometimes the writing process can become adversarial. You know the feeling: your creativity wants to take you one direction and you’re resisting, or vice versa. The two of you stand for months in opposite corners of the boxing ring with gloves on poised for a fight. Or maybe you have writer’s block—your creative muse has disappeared or refuses to play nice.
When you find yourself at odds with your literary practice, thinking of your work as a relationship can help you get to the bottom of and resolve the issues.
Ask your literary practice what it needs. Talk to it. Woo it. Date it. Use your relationship building skills to transform it from enemy to lover.
When you understand your literary purpose and how you relate to it, you will be able to make wiser choices about how you can best work together.
Ask questions of your work. What does it want? Set boundaries to safeguard your relationship. Then, working in partnership with your literary purpose, establish goals together as if you were accountable to it and it to you. Create schedules and set expectations for yourself and others more in line with your true priorities for your literary practice.
What creative names describe your relationship with your literary work? Boss, Companion, Secret Lover or something else? Leave us a comment and share with your creative friends!
After retiring from a corporate career in business transformation and change management, Dr. Diane Rogers brings her expertise in social psychology to classrooms and families.
Her first picture book, Stand Tall, made its debut at the 2008 Seeds of Compassion Conference in Seattle, Washington featuring His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. A week after the book’s release, the State of Washington selected Stand Tall as an official teaching resource for compassionate education. Diane’s other published works include Emerge, A Story of Confidence, and When We All Stand Tall (available September 2016). To find out more, visit www.drdianerogers.com.
A self-professed global nomad, when they aren’t traveling on or jumping out of planes, Diane and her husband Kevin triangulate between Sydney, Australia, Newport Beach, and their sailboat in the Mediterranean.
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