Setting Priorities: Balancing Writing Dreams with Reality

Aspiring novelists dream about being published and financially sustaining themselves with their writing.  But how do we achieve this with the family, financial, and other demands in our lives?

I thought about this after a particularly busy week, where there was a lot of dancing, job searching, etc., but not a lot of writing.

There were also major changes in my friends’ lives, which triggered serious reflection on my part. Many are fulfilling their dreams of becoming parents, joining amazing companies, or leading their businesses. It’s incredibly inspiring – it made me stop and think about my own goals as a writer and in life generally.

My dream is to spend the rest of my life doing what I love. I love to write and dance. I want to be a novelist. I want to teach belly dance. At some point, I want to be self-sufficient and have my own business, which may or may not be related to either.

But here’s the reality: I have a lot of educational debt. I want to start a family. I want to stay in/near NYC. How do I make it happen?

I jotted down some ideas on how I can possibly make my dreams a reality. Hopefully these ideas can help you, too:

  • Write every day, no matter how busy I am. I was up at 5am the other day, and I watched the birth of a new day from my window. Writing at this time would be a great way to start the day!
  • Cut back on the extras. I don’t want to cut back too much on dancing since this is also a life goal. But rehearsing 5x a week for 2-3 hours at a time is definitely too much. After tonight’s performance, I plan to go back to my regular schedule (2 classes a week and rehearsal).
  • Limit the social networking. Yes, that means cut back on Twitter, Facebook and G-chat! And for me, that doesn’t mean simply being a passive participant. Going “invisible” isn’t enough. I just need to check my accounts once or twice a day tops and stay off the rest of the time.
  • Enter more writing competitions. I haven’t done many of these, but I think I should work on at least one short story at a time and submit it to competitions. I’ve started using the Poets & Writers reminder tool for grant and competition deadlines.
  • Find a job that doesn’t kill my soul. Despite my educational debt, I left my big law job because I didn’t love the (stressful) work or the long hours. The path didn’t lead to a life goal anyway. It has been difficult to find work in this economy, but hopefully contract legal work will give me the financial resources I need and the time to focus on my writing.

What are your goals as a writer? What do you do to make sure you achieve them? Share your tips in the comments.

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About MelissaR

Lover of words and movement. View all posts by MelissaR

3 responses to “Setting Priorities: Balancing Writing Dreams with Reality

  • becsmog

    What you say is so true! A few months back I vowed to make writing my priority and was committed to finding part time work or a less stressful job close to home but then I got quite sick and I wonder now how realistic that idea is. Writing is still a priority for me and I need to make it a priority again even with work getting crazy busy and all the other things life throws at me. I think I will definitely have to make firm commitments to ideas 1, 3, and 5!

    • becsmog

      That should read ‘Writing is still a priority for me and I need to make a commitment to it again…’ Oops 🙂

      • MelissaR

        I know, it’s been so hard to make it a priority. I always thought that once I found the “right” job, I could have a better writing schedule, start “saving up” for a family, etc. But the reality is that there will never be the “right” job or time for anything. I just need to start making things happen by working with what I can control in the situation right now, and that’s simply dedicating more time to writing and less time to things that take away from it.

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