By Edie Melson, @EdieMelson
Sometimes the business of writing—and the commitments of writing—can steal the joy of writing. When that happens, it helps me to return to the basics. I take an inventory of everything I’m doing and re-evaluate my priorities. Here are the steps I take to return to the joy of writing.
Have To, Need To, and Want To!
I have a love/hate relationship with lists. They definitely keep me organized and on track, but they also highlight just how many commitments I have.
To combat the downside, and keep me moving forward, I’ve found a way to categorize my writing tasks through a 3-tiered approach.
I call it my Have To, Need To, and Want To system. It’s the definitions of the writing tasks that determine where they fit in this. Today I’m going to share those definitions with you, along with examples.
These are my non-negotiable tasks. There’s really no wiggle room for these because they affect either my income, my reputation, and/or someone else’s income or reputation. For me, the usually include:
- Blog posts I write for money or as a regular contributor to a professional site—like Guideposts and Novel Rocket.
- Daily social media updates. These are the updates I schedule every morning, but they’re divided up part here, in the Have To category and part in the Need To. I tell myself I HAVE TO schedule a minimum of 5 updates a day, 5 days a week. I’ll share the Need To part later.
- Articles that I’ve been hired to write.
- Certain blog posts on my site. My Have To posts are Monday’s Social Media Monday and one post minimum for Tuesday and Wednesday.
- Writing that’s been contracted (like for a book) or on a proposal that needs to go out.
These are the things that I know I need to do, if there’s any way I can. They’re also the things I let slip if something important with my life comes up.
- Daily social media updates beyond the HAVE TO five—I feel a NEED TO schedule 12 – 15 per day, 5 days a week.
- Additional blog posts on my site. I feel the NEED TO have new content 7 days a week on my blog. That means I NEED TO write a large part of that content.
- Contests that I feel would move my career forward.
- Commenting on social media and blogs.
- Finding new people to connect with through social media.
This part of the list is what fuels my joy in writing. If I’m only ever doing the HAVE TO and NEED TO, my time writing is in danger of becoming drudgery. So I try to make sure that I hit at least 1 thing that’s designated WANT TO. These include a lot of different things.
- Poetry—I think writers can improve by playing around with poetry.
- Short Fiction—again, it is part of improving my craft.
- Photography—I know, it’s not writing per se. But I use my photography directly in my blog and in other parts of writing.
- Research and brainstorming for new projects.
By taking a full, hard, look at where I am with all my writing endeavors, this can help me reprioritize and return to the joy of writing.
All right, this is how I look at my writing life. Do you have a similar system or something completely different? Do you have a system at all? I’d love to hear your thoughts.