Barbara A. Barnett

The State of the Barb: Priorities, Y’all

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So, this blogging thing? Kind of hasn’t happened a whole lot recently. But usually, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Usually, it’s the result of keeping my priorities in order. If I have precious little spare time and it comes down to a choice between writing a blog post or getting in more fiction writing time, the fiction is going to win. Usually.

Unfortunately, the last two months have not been usual. My priorities got out of whack, and writing time was reduced to pathetic little spurts. I have the super fancy word tracking spreadsheet to serve as a visual reminder of said patheticness.

The light blue-ish lines = my yearly word count goal. The darker blue-ish lines = me and my quickly stalled out progress toward said goal. But, hey, shiny spreadsheet tool courtesy of http://svenjaliv.com!

I started out 2017 on the productive side of the Force, writing several thousand words each month. Two new short stories! More progress on my steampunk novel! Multiple writing retreats where I got to do nothing but write all day and chat with awesome people!

But as you can see in the above image, things stalled out after April. I wrote for only 4 days in May, 227 words total. In June I got whopping 6 days of writing in, 439 words total—and over half of those words were today, the last day of the month. And because of the reality distortion field that is Facebook, there were sales and publications that made it look I was being all writerly and productive when I really wasn’t.

The lack of productivity wasn’t because of some major life shakeup. It was because (a) I have a long history of being terrible at saying “no” to things, (b) for every thing I do actually say “no” to, I tend to say “yes” to two other things, like some sort of overcommitted hydra, and (c) out of an overdeveloped sense of responsibility/loyalty, I was sticking with things that stressed me out or that I was no longer enjoying. And all that shit adds up after a while.

In other words, writing wasn’t getting done because of priorities that really shouldn’t be priorities, or at least shouldn’t be bigger priorities than being a writer. You know, the thing I’ve wanted to be since the second grade.

Self-reflection is great and all, but ultimately pointless if you don’t do anything about what you see. So recently, I’ve cut back on some things that were stressing me out. Yes, there are new things (like finally taking the dive into contributing to the Speculative Chic blog, which you all should check out), but new things are good if they’re things you’re excited about and have been wanting to do but couldn’t because of the stress-inducing things. New things keep life interesting.

But most importantly, I successfully applied butt to chair this morning and wrote fiction. And even though it’s been three weeks since I last did that, it wasn’t painful. I enjoyed it. I’ve missed it. It’s a priority again, damn it.

Okay, so you could ask: given all that, why the hell are you sitting there writing a blog post instead of getting more fiction done? That’s easy:

  1. Accountability. If a writer self-reflects in the woods and no one sees, did she really self-reflect?
  2. I got some fiction writing in today. It felt good. I’m therefore allowed to unwind before bed. This post is very unwindy for me. More fiction will happen tomorrow.
  3. This blog is among the things I’ve neglected because of questionable priorities. It’s time I gave it some love.
  4. Did I mention that accountability thing? Keep me honest, y’all.
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