Two weeks after the first day of the second new year
Author had two ideas for a post this week, and she chose this one. The next idea will wait, perhaps for next week, perhaps for a later one. The year has just begun and there’s a lot to do, and one thing Author has learned in this blog’s first year is that the unexpected happens, new ideas come up, and who knows what this blog will end up talking about in the weeks ahead.
And that, too, is related to this week’s post. Here’s the thing: as Author has mentioned in her post on the first day of the second new year, she has started the year busy, still very busy from last year. In fact, she is so busy now, doing so many things all at once, both writing-related and those related to life outside writing, that time is passing by too fast, and too often she wakes up to find that a week has gone by, that time is running away from her. And that’s only with things that Author herself decides to do, what she plans for her days in all aspects of life. Add to these the unexpected that we all encounter, and busy becomes a constant, it becomes what characterizes your days, weeks, and months.
And that can be a problem. Those of you who have already started working on your writing and are busy taking steps forward on your path to becoming a published author, whether you’ve published already and are working on your next book or are still on your first one, you are becoming increasingly busier as you progress toward achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself, as you learn what needs to be done and add tasks to an increasingly busy work schedule. And if you also have another job that you’re holding, then you’re dividing your time between that and your writing, and, of course, there’s life, too: home, family, friends. By now, you’re probably so busy time is sprinting by, certainly without heeding your need to complete the tasks that will bring you closer to your goals as a writer.
The problem with being so busy is that you don’t only lose track of time, you risk losing sight of what you’re working for—and here Author is talking specifically about your writing. Those other aspects of life, they differ from writer to writer, and they’ve been a part of your life for a long while, you know how to deal with them. Writing is the newly (or relatively so) added aspect that you need to fit in and learn to integrate into your life and time as it evolves. And in your writing, you just might end up hectically moving from task to task. And at some point your mind might be so overloaded that you do so mindlessly, without stopping to consider the priority of what you’re doing, or even its necessity.
That last writing-related task you’ve just finished, it doesn’t stand on its own, and it’s not a goal in itself. It is but one task of many that you need to complete in order to get to where it is that you see yourself in the years ahead. Don’t lose sight of what you’re doing it for. If you’re about to do your next task just because it’s next on the list, that’s not a good enough reason. Make sure this task is what you should be doing because it is what you need in order to bring you closer to achieving your goals. Make sure it deserves its place on the path you’ve set out for yourself. Author sometimes talks about recalibrating her path. That’s exactly what you need to do: once in a while, and make that a short while, you need to review what you’re doing, make sure that you’re not working with a list of tasks that you made months ago and that is no longer relevant, that is outdated simply because progress and experience warrant doing things differently now. Make sure that you’re going in the right direction and that the task you’re about to invest precious time and effort in will bring you closer to your goals.
One thing, though: you will still find yourself doing tasks that in retrospect were not as useful as you had thought they would be. That’s fine, that’s not a mistake, it’s experience. We’re all so good at questioning our decisions retrospectively, but that’s not how experience works. The idea is not to question your past actions, but to revise your future plans. If you check you list of tasks now and then, that will be helpful toward keeping you on your path.
As for those of you who are only just beginning, who for now just have a dream: set clear goals, then set a path to them. That path will change as you progress, as you gain experience and revisit your plans and revise them accordingly. Just make sure that you always keep your goals in mind, and that you continue to progress in the right direction. And this also goes for those of you who are not writers but have something else that you’re doing, any other type of work that you are putting a significant amount of time into in the hope that you will succeed in it.
The reason Author chose this post for this week is because it belongs now, when the entire year stretches before you. You might still be considering your plans for the weeks and months ahead or else you already have and they are fresh in your mind and you are moving forward in an orderly fashion, in which case you need to make sure you will continue this way throughout the year, so do check yourself, the efficacy of your work plan, as you move ahead. Or, perhaps you are so busy that you just continued on from last year in a frenzy of work, and so you run a greater risk that at least some of the tasks you’re so intent on are not what you should be doing, or perhaps should be differently placed in your work plan. As you progress and learn, plans change, and so does the priority of tasks within them and the need for some of those tasks. So no matter how short in time you are, do stop and review the next steps you take. This could actually save you some time, certainly the feeling that you’ve just wasted previous time and energy on a task that you no longer need while another, whose priority has gone up, should have been done instead.
Author and Sister’s tip for you this week, the first tip of the new year: the busier you are, the more you run the risk of losing your way. You’re no longer faced with the next task but with the next ten tasks, and the hundred after that, and they keep ganging up on you. So make sure you keep an eye on your goals, make sure that busyness is taking you to where you want to be. Take care to stop and think, remind yourself of where you’re going and why, and recalibrate your path if needed. Make sure the task you’re about to complete, and the one after that, are what you need to get you closer to your dream.