Friday, October 23, 2015

Write FIRST!!! (and I mean it this time! (don't I?))

By Art Taylor

"If you could go back five years and change something about your writing life, what would it be?"

 I keep a to-do list on my iPhone. The list can be sorted by category; the categories are home, work, writing, entertainment, and travel, and it's the first three I use the most, as you might imagine. The list can also be sorted by priority—so an individual to-do item might be tagged "writing" and marked as highest priority.

This is, in fact, the case, with the top item on my to-do list every morning: "Write FIRST!!!" (The caps make it a higher highest priority, I guess.) 

My to-do list also marks items that are overdue—both under the heading "Overdue" and also in red font. Just to rub it in. 

Some days, despite several indications of prominence, "Write FIRST!!!" is the last thing I check off my list. Yesterday's list, for example, included lesson prep for two classes (including about 100 pages of reading and a pile of grading), a few emails, a phone call I needed to make, etc. Today's list included grading several more essays, sending an important email, completing this post for Criminal Minds, and reading a short story. I've checked off a couple of those already, and as I'm writing this column here, I'm getting near to checking off Criminal Minds too. But "Write FIRST!!!" I still haven't ventured near. 

And honestly, it's overdue, since I didn't do it yesterday either. See the screenshot below.

(And I don't want to talk about how many days overdue "Write FIRST!!!" was during the confluence of start of the semester, book launch, Bouchercon, and more.)

If I could go back five years, I would actually adhere to my to-do list more regularly—make sure that writing first actually was the first thing on my daily routine, both chronologically and in terms of importance. 

But more to the point, I need to recognize that I don't want to be saying the same thing five years from now.


Paul D. Marks said...

Art, I'm not as well organized as you and keep a lot in my head, though I do tend to write lists that quickly get forgotten about. But I did your comment "Some days, despite several indications of prominence, "Write FIRST!!!" is the last thing I check off my list," interesting. My intention is always to Write First. And often that's the last thing that gets attended to as life has a habit of sneaking in and stealing time from the things we/I really want to be doing. Reminds me of John Lennon's line: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." So true.

Meredith Cole said...

Too true, Art! Write more, write first...

When I put "write" on my list, I always put it in all caps to stress its importance (but it sometimes falls off the to do list for me, too...)

Art Taylor said...

Thanks, Paul and Meredith -- This was a quick post, but it really did encapsulate the thing that weighs most on my mind about my writing life.....

I did ultimately check off "Write FIRST!!!" yesterday, though haven't gotten to it today yet. Disney on Ice this morning! First things first there too, of course....