March 30, 2010

Subject: How do your priorities align with your time?

A Different Approach to Setting Goals
I’ve been all about goals and resolutions this year, inspired in part by reading The Happiness Project and in part by my desire to make progress with my writing. After reading a challenge from the folks at Teaching Authors, I even wrote up a six-word resolution for the year (Write. Create. Revise. Complete. Enjoy. Repeat.) So when the Vermont Novel Writing Workshop opened with a session on setting goals, I felt like I was in good shape.

YA Novelist and writing teacher Sarah Aronson, who organized the retreat and led the goal setting session, urged all of us in the audience to think realistically about how we use our time before setting our goals.

How much time do we have to write? How much time do we spend caring for families, working at jobs, driving kids around, volunteering, cooking, cleaning, watching TV, and even, um…, blogging? Write it down, all of it, she said.

Since I write while my kids are at school, I have about twenty hours a week to devote to writing—all of my writing. That includes my novel, blogging here, blogging at StorySleuths, and writing short stories. Twenty hours is a good chunk of time, and I’m grateful for it.

Then, Sarah asked us to consider how our schedules match up with our priorities.

Oh, I realize there’s nothing new to the idea of comparing time with priorities but I had never looked at it in the stark light of basic numbers. Twenty hours a week and maybe one or two hours spent on my novel? The rest spent on… what? Blogging? “Research”?

Holy crap.

New resolution: Spend two hours a day working on my novel before working on any other writing. Ten hours of focused novel writing a week should add up to real progress over time.

How do you allot your time? Do you set daily writing goals? If so, how does that work for you? I’d love to hear about challenges, tips, and ideas!

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