The Daily Journal, Monday, August 12

In today’s Journal

* Topic: Time and Priorities
* Daily diary
* Of Interest
* The numbers

Topic: Time and Priorities

Karen Riggs posted in PWW on Sunday, August 11 (see “Of Interest”), about her process when her writing stalls. Especially if the stall is caused by interference from the conscious, critical voice.

She mentions that some writers go do something else for awhile to rob the critical voice of its power. Then they come back to the writing. She also mentions that she might have “a set window of time to write” on a given day and “there’s a danger that if I leave, I won’t make it back.”

So she has a process she follows that enables her to get back into the story quickly. That’s fine. We all have our own way. So much for the stall. We just deal with it in whatever way works for us.

f the stall is caused by the conscious, critical mind, that’s nothing more than fear and self-doubt (which is a result of fear). In short, if you don’t finish, you won’t publish and people won’t be able to criticize what you wrote.

If you really want to silence the critical voice, stop caring what anyone else thinks about your work. It isn’t easy, but it’s exactly that simple.

For one thing, what anyone else thinks of your work is outside of your control anyway. For another, what they think is frankly none of your business. The sooner you realize that, the sooner your critical mind will back off.

Or, as Emilio Esteves put it in his book The Rhythm of Success, “There are always going to be two forces at work: the internal and the external…. The external forces are much harder to control, so let’s look first at you, the internal force. The place to begin is with self-assurance. Your belief in your great idea and your dreams has to be rock solid.”

Okay, so with that being said, let’s get to the bigger issue: Time and Priorities. Because when we talk about “getting to” or “getting back to” our writing, that’s what we’re talking about. And all too often, whether and when we get back to writing IS within our control.

If you have a day job (or when you had a day job), what would cause you to not go into work on a given regular workday (or not go back to work after lunch)?

Whatever it was, it should take that much or more to cause you to not get back to your writing.

As I wrote in a comment on Karen’s post, we all have limited time in every day. For a sloppy analogy, every day is precisely as limited as our favorite kind of pie.

We begin with the whole thing, sort of. But an immediate chunk is carved out and consumed as sleep. Like it or not, we all have to sleep.

For those who still have a necessary day job (working for someone else), that’s another large slice gone. If you work part time, maybe that slice is larger on some days and smaller on others.

Sleep time and work time are slices we can’t do anything about. They’re just gone. But either way, that leaves most of us with about 16 hours per day (or 1/2 of our pie).

So what matters is how we slice the rest of the pie. And that’s completely up to us. Beyond sleeping and beyond a necessary day job, how we divide the rest of our time each day is a matter of priorites.

As Kris Rusch wrote recently, “Be your own writer. Be your own business owner. Be someone who tries, and eventually you will succeed. Stop making excuses.” (I can’t share the link just yet to this excellent post because it’s on Patreon. But this one post alone is worth the $5 it would cost you to subscribe.)

In my case, I write (or read or research or do silly stuff like write this blog) pretty much every minute that I’m not sleeping on most days because I don’t have a day job. Or rather, writing IS my day job. (Ironically, today I’m not doing much at all for reasons that will become evident later.)

But my life is that way because that’s how I’ve set my priorities. When there are no other pressing issues, writing is my Number One priority. When there ARE pressing issues (meaning activities that are more important at the time than writing), I shift my priorities.

A couple of times a week, I have to shift my Number One priority from writing to doing laundry. Twice a day, I shift my Number One priority to making my breakfast or preparing our supper. Every few months, I shift my Number One priority to “getting out of Dodge” for a couple of days to go camping. And so on.

But writing is my overall number one priority. How do I know? Because it’s the one thing I always come back to. It’s also the one thing that’s on my mind even when I’m doing other things (laundry, cooking, camping, and so on).

I’m not recommending that you make writing your number one priority. What’s right for one is not right for another. There are no right answers except what seems or feels right to you, both overall and in the moment.

If you want more time to write, re-set your priorities in that direction. If you want more time to go camping or whatever, re-set your priorities in that direction.

Just remember that you have only a limited number of slices each day. And of course, a limited number of pies. Think about what’s important to you, then choose wisely.

Rolled out at 2 this morning to the sound of some moronic dog down the block barking, probably at nothing.

I bought a pickup from my cousin (2007 Chevy Colorado in excellent condition from a deceased uncle’s estate). This past weekend we drove to Alamogordo NM to pick it up.

The trip was mostly uneventful. Saturday was 6 hours of driving one way (8 is pretty much my outer limit these days). Then we parked ourselves in a good motel and called my cousin to let her know we’d arrived.

We were both exhausted and didn’t relish the thought of driving up into the Sacramento mountains in that condition, so I also asked my cousin whether she and her husband might drive down to meet us. They agreed.

After a few hours of waiting (TV, limited internet, etc.) my cousin’s husband and their neighbor delivered the truck. We visited for a few minutes, and then he headed home with the neighbor. Then we ate a delivered pizza, watched more TV, then went to sleep.

The next morning, we got up, ate the free breakfast, and headed west. The return trip took maybe a little longer than the trip over, which was fine. As I said, uneventful.

Today, back to this but not quite back to writing other than this. Today my priority will be resting, along with laundry and fiddling with the new pickup a bit. ‘Cause, well, I’m a guy. (grin)

Talk with you again tomorrow.

Of Interest

See “Writers Are a Strange Breed” at

See “Covers” at

See “One Writer’s Strange Encounter with a Reader” at I don’t really get her point. To me, a reader who cares only about the next book is the perfect reader. I want my readers to be so immersed in the story they don’t even realize there is a writer.

See “It was a dark and stormy night…” at

See “Hometown Book Marketing…” at

Fiction Words: XXXX
Nonfiction Words: 1200 (Journal)
Total words for the day: 1200

Writing of Blackwell Ops 7: Glen Marco (novel)

Day 1…… 3222 words. Total words to date…… 3222
Day 2…… 1170 words. Total words to date…… 4392
Day 3…… XXXX words. Total words to date…… XXXXX

Total fiction words for the month……… 4392
Total fiction words for the year………… 363129
Total nonfiction words for the month… 12550
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 230620
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 593749

Calendar Year 2019 Novels to Date…………………… 7
Calendar Year 2019 Novellas to Date……………… 1
Calendar Year 2019 Short Stories to Date… 1
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 43
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 194
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31