In an emergency room, the most urgent cases are treated first. I apply the same triage system when I have too much dirty laundry for one load. Underwear and socks always make the cut, while my pillowcase has to wait it out until next Sunday. But when my to do lists get too long and overwhelming, I tend to the easiest – and often least important – tasks first. Writing is rarely the first to be tackled.
I’ve decided to determine a line of triage for my writing related to do’s. I plan to print it and post it above my desk and tell myself that every time I attend to a facebook post first, a neglected little poem dies in the waiting room.
This list is meant for myself, but maybe it will inspire your own triage system:
1. Write. I hear it’s hard to become a writer if you don’t.
2. Submit. Research agents and publishers and send out results from step 1.
3. Critique. There have been times when I’ve spent so much time critiquing others’ work that I had no time left over to spend on my own. If that’s the case for you, join a smaller critique group. But because my critique groups are invaluable to my writing process and because I’ve made time sensitive commitments to them, this remains a high priority on my list.
4. Study the craft. This gets its own triage system, with ‘reading books in my genre’ as the priority, followed by book, SCBWI bulletin, and blog reading.
5. Blog. They say that having a blog is important to publishers. Actually, having a blog has helped me better understand my writing process and develop a sense of community around writing. So, THANK YOU!
6. Financially support my writing. Work involved in the jobs that I already have get their own list, but I spend a significant chunk of time looking for and applying to opportunities to teach writing, freelance, or pick up other part-time gigs to support my writing. The point of my working piecemeal jobs is to leave time for writing, so when I occasionally spend more time job researching than writing, I have to check my priorities.
7. Clean the entire house. Why is that on my writing to-do list? Because when it’s time to write, I suddenly feel a need to-do it.
8. Check Facebook.