The Writer’s Dilemma (mid-NaNoWriMo Thoughts)

We are halfway through November, and somehow I’m still stubbornly keeping up with my word counts for NaNoWriMo. It’d be easy, you know, to get that word count in every day if writing was the only commitment we had. Unfortunately, one of the struggles that I found I’ve had as a writer is that no one ever told me to expect having to decide, if I had to cut something out of my life, whether that something would be writing.

This semester — this month, in particular — has taught me that there are currently four facets to my life right now. I’m assuming that, for many of you, you’ll share at least three of them: social life (including both friends and family), work, school, and writing. When all facets begin to conflict, competing for your attention, which are we writers expected to choose?

I’m no social butterfly. My social life is practically nonexistent anyway. For me, cutting this part out of my life now that things are beginning to get hectic was easy. The other three, though? Not so much.

A recap of my life: I’m a Creative Writing major in my third year of college. This semester I have only twelve credit hours, but while that only means I have three classes, they’re all literature classes. Which means a lot of reading, and a lot of essay writing. Class ends the first week of December, so NaNoWriMo falls in that terrible flurry period where everything is starting to get due. On top of that, I work in retail, and I love my job to death, but Black Friday looms like a dark cloud above my store’s head, and things are already starting to get hectic. Naturally, my bosses want me to come in more, to help them out, and I want to be there to help them. But there’s school, of course, to worry about, and… NaNo. Because this year, I’m determined to reach the finish line.

It is a steadfast belief of mine that it’s okay if writing isn’t a top priority for writers. It’s something that will take time, regardless, and you’ll have your whole life to finish whatever project you’re working on. Not to mention, if we’re being completely honest here, success prospects aren’t exactly high. As a young writer, people are basically telling me that I shouldn’t assume writing will be my main career, that it can at best be a side job or a hobby. For the most part, I think it’s wise to prepare for failure as well as success, which means making sure that you have other means of making money. But writing is my passion, and in the long run, it is what I want to be my top priority. I want it to be my top priority now.

School is a tangled, complicated mess of obligation. I’m paying to go, to learn. And, supposedly getting a higher education is supposed to help me in the future. I’ve heard that having any degree can help someone land a job, but who knows how true that is. And my dad, who knows very little of publishing by the way, says people will take my writing more seriously if I have that English degree. Whether or not that’s true doesn’t matter, because I want to make sure that if a college degree so that if it does help my future, I have that edge. Problem: like Myrei in my NaNo project, I’m not entirely convinced that my college career is such a guarantor of getting a job — especially the job I want — that everyone tries to make it out to be. So if I have to cut something out of my life, it seems to me that it should be the most pointless or useless to me. But I’m compelled to do well in school. Guess what, though? NaNo month is also the last real month before classes are over. Read: Everything is due, basically.

Even more difficult is my job. I’m part time, technically, but working full time, because my bosses really like me, and I don’t mind because I enjoy being there (usually). My managers know how hard of a worker I am, so when holiday comes around (and for retail, holiday comes at the beginning of November), they want me there to help out where I can. But this is not the job I’m going to stay at my whole life. Retail is not what I want to be doing in ten years. I don’t even want to be doing it in five. So this loyalty I have to my job is steadfast, but I have to keep reminding myself it’s temporary, and it’s not what I want to be doing with my life. So should I put off writing in the short term to be there for my job now? Or is it truly a bad thing for me to want at least a portion of my time to be guaranteed set aside for writing?

My Question for You:

How do you prioritize your time? Do you have certain facets of your life that you are more willing to give up than others?

Writing Prompt

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“There is one mirror in my house and it’s kept under lock and key.”

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