Thursday, March 17, 2016

On paying yourself first (in your writing)

Years ago I read an article on how to make sure you have enough money to retire before you die, or some such. Not likely at this rate. But anyway, one piece of advice was: "Pay yourself first," which meant that with every paycheck, you should make sure you were putting all you could into your retirement account before you did other stuff with your money, like buy things.

Talking about finances makes me anxious. Talking about writing also, lately, makes me anxious. But we're going to talk about writing here. 

For a long time I was writing in the late afternoon, after finishing up my paying work for the day. And that went OK. There was a certain upside to already feeling mentally and physically drained, so that I would just bang out my page (my goal at the time) and get on with napping or making dinner.

But sometimes, it was just too easy to blow off my writing, having spent most of the day writing for someone else. So now, at this point in my writing life, I think it's better to pay myself first--to get my own writing done and out of the way before I tackle anything else.

Of course this works best if:
  • you are a morning person
  • your morning schedule is somewhat flexible
  • you work at home, or at least can work at home
  • you can write relatively quickly, so that you don't have to set the alarm for some ungodly hour and get up when it's dark and cold and sit miserably in front of a glowing screen while the person who would normally make you coffee is still asleep
The advantages of this approach include:
  • making your own writing top priority, so that you acknowledge its importance in your own mind and to others
  • not having your unfinished page eating away at the edges of your consciousness for the whole day
  • having an actual functioning brain when you're writing
  • possible opportunity (which can be blown off *without guilt*) to write more in the afternoon
Currently I'm doing 500 words every morning. So far, so good.

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