In this two-post series I discuss my evolving passion for writing and how it fits in as a component of my life. In a subsequent post I will share how my Writing Boundaries determine what I will write about.
You might have noticed I missed my weekly post last weekend. It was mostly because I was still mulling things over in my mind. Sometimes to rush a post would be worse than missing an arbitrary deadline. With something important to say, it should be said right.
How does Writing fit into my Life?
The first Writing Boundary is how writing fits in to the rest of my life.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about my priorities and how I choose to spend the time I have. Partly this was initiated by reading The Heavenly Man, but a lot of decisions and events have been dove-tailing together recently.
We like to pretend that we have an infinite amount of time, but the reality is far less rosy. The reality is none of us know how long we have… and in any case, it isn’t an infinite amount of time. If I do choose to do Option A now, it means I can’t do option B. I might plan to do B later, but that may never happen.
In Church circles we have a saying, ‘Don’t let the good get in the way of the best’ which I guess comes from Luke 10:38-42. It’s about prioritising what is most important. Time is finite and each of us only gets to spend it once. Life isn’t Groundhog Day, I’m not Bill Murray and I can’t have ‘do overs’ if I waste my time. Spend it wisely, because once it’s gone, it’s gone.
The priorities in my life are:
- Leisure (aka Writing)
It’s easy to list them off intellectually, but is that really where my priorities sit based on my actions? Do my actions confirm or negate my stated priorities?
If I’m being honest there have been times where the order, based on my actions, has been different. And probably that’s caused by selfishness. Personally I might get more of a tank-filler doing a leisure activity than attending a family function. That’s not always the case, but it is sometimes and it’s a short-term benefit over a long-term, bigger, gain.
My stated priorities are how I want to live my life. What does that look like in practice?
- Faith. My Christian faith is a living, breathing aspect of my life. It’s not something that is relegated to Sunday mornings, but instead spreads out to transform every aspect of my life. Understanding and exploring my faith takes time, and it calls on me to be involved in the Church, engaged with my brothers and sisters (both inside and outside the Church).
- Family. It’s said you can ‘choose your friends, but not your family,’ which is true to a degree. But insofar as I have control over it I will choose to enrich my family relationships. I’m blessed to have a great family already but I’m going to maintain and improve on that where possible. This especially goes for my marriage to my beautiful wife, but expands outwards to the broader relations. I’m going to put the time in, because the benefits I get are priceless (and besides, I love them).
- Work. ‘Work’ to me is the practicalities of life. It’s true (and possibly nerdy) but I like working for the feeling of community service that it gives me. And, as a male, I’m hard-wired to be performance-based. My work ethic demands a ‘full days input for a full days pay’. But I don’t live for my work: work pays the bills and supports my family, which is mostly why I turn up every day.
- Leisure. Leisure is my discretionary recreational time. In my case this is mostly writing. And this is where my Writing Boundaries are employed.
I will spend significant amounts of my leisure time writing. I enjoy it immensely. It allows me to be creative and to create entire worlds; to beat the metaphorical stuffing out of characters and give them moments of elation. Hopefully, I can also surprise the reader with a plot twist or three. I enjoy writing, and the challenge of learning the craft of writing.
If it were possible for me transition from my ‘day job’ to a writing career, I’d do it in a heart-beat. I’d even do it, taking the likely and significant drop in financial security. To be able to work at something you love, is a great and rare thing.
So where is this Writing Boundary? Most writing advice books say that if you want to be successful, you must forsake all other things and invest, invest, invest into your writing career. You shut yourself off from the world and get busy writing. That may often be true, but I choose not to bid on that sale. Even if it means I won’t “succeed” in writing.
I will not sacrifice the higher priorities in my life to possibly succeed as a “writer”. Or for that matter even if you could guarantee I’d succeed. Because, frankly, I’d rather succeed in life.
To me that means instituting and acting upon the priorities in my life as I’ve numbered them.
My Writing Boundary is that writing has it’s place. It’s a fairly high place, but it isn’t allowed to queue jump. As much as I love writing, I love the people in my life more.