Friday, October 2, 2009

Reaching Your Full Potential

Raise your hand if you are a writer...
Now, keep your hand up if you feel you are reaching your full potential as a writer.
Many hands went down (including mine).

Many of us identify ourselves as writers, yet we are not doing all we can to be the best we can be. Distractions get in our way and writing is no longer a priority. A constant cloud of guilt hangs over us because we know we should be devoting more time to this literary craft we love, yet we refuse to make room on our overflowing plate.

We can't possibly do and be everything all at once; choices have to be made. But as certain things are cut our of our life, it opens up our plate and enables us to have more time to reach our full potential.

In order to do this you must examine your life closely and figure out what your priorities are. In LeAnn Thieman's book Balancing Life in Your War Zones: A Guide to Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health, she dedicates a whole chapter to this.

She says, " Make a list of what is most important to you...I might challenge you a bit when I suggest that priorities are not what we state them to be but how we're actually spending our time. We can't give lip service to one thing and say its a priority if we are spending our time doing something else. Obviously, what we're spending our time doing is what we have established as our priorities."

My list of priorities would be family, home, friends, myself, writing, Northern Colorado Writers, volunteering and reading. Notice, obsessively checking email, watching Oprah, checking Donny & Marie's tweets every hour and alphabatizing my spice rack is not on my priority list, but these are things I waste my time on. Clearly I can cut these activities out and open up more time to writing. Pretty easy choice.

Some choices. though, are not so easy. My writing buddy Laura Bridgwater made some huge cuts this year. She has been a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer/radio commentator for years, but decided she was not reaching her full potential as a writer, so she did something about it.

She declared to her family and friends that writing was now her job. The hours while her kids were at school would be her official work time. That was the easy part. The tough part came when she had to decide what to cut out of her day to make this happen. It meant, no more weekly volunteering at school, no more breakfasts out with friends and no more shopping trips during the day.

One of her biggest challenges was getting her friends and family to accept this. When a friend would call to see if Laura could do lunch, she would have to decline because she was working. Or if one of her daughter called because she forgot her lunch, Laura would have to tell her to charge a lunch because she was working.

This wasn't easy for her, but she stuck to her guns and is feeling good about her decision. Plus she is getting a bunch of writing done.

Are you ready to reach your full potential as a writer? Is so, what are you willing to cut out of your life in order to do that?


Janie B said...

I wish I could do that and still afford to eat and pay my bills. Actually, I think even if I could, I probably wouldn't. I'm not sure I am that committed. Maybe someday I'll be sure.

Jay said...

Thanks for this post. I've written two full novels (unpublished) and I'm working on my third, but once school started up again (I'm a teacher), I seem to have lost all time to right. It is, I realize, a matter of priorities and less a matter of how much time I actually have. *sigh* Looks like I need to get back on the ball.

Jay said...

Okay... obviously I meant to say "...all time to WRITE..." Ugh. That's embarrassing.

Karye said...

I need to hear this every once in a while, and fall is definitely a time when I get distracted by the garden and kitchen. Thanks for the nudge!

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