Do Your Most Important Writing First

by Anne Wayman

distractionDoes your writing life work like this?

You get up in the morning with full intention of working through your to-do list and before you’ve even taken a sip of coffee or written much more than a word, the phone rings or the cats need attention or the baby cries or you venture into social media – in other words something happens to take you off track.

It happens to all of us… if we let it.

The way to deal with distraction is to spend the first hour or even two of your best writing time with the phone off, the cats and babies fed and napping and a way to avoid social media including email.

Your best writing time

If you’re not sure about the best time of day for you to write, take a few minutes and design your ideal writing day. That will help you know how to schedule your writing.


If you’re like me and early morning is the best time, schedule it then. If you’re an evening writer, that’s when you should be doing your best writing. Make appointments with yourself for that time and let friends and family know you need support in the form of not interrupting you unless there’s a fire. It often takes a week or so of gentle reminders to get the support you need. So do the reminding.

Make your best writing time more effective by turning off the radio, not looking at email, and eliminating as many distractions as you possibly can. At first it may seem awkward or lonely, but if you do this for a week or two you’ll find it effective and that you’re actually looking forward to that time.

Your most important writing

As you get your schedule established do your most important writing first. Or work on your most important writing project first.

That isn’t always writing your doing for clients or your blog or whatever seems most obvious. The guide for your most important writing is how you feel about it and what you’re trying to accomplish.

For example, one of my most important projects is the 5 Buck Forum. Rarely is the time I spend on that actually writing time. There’s the technology of the site itself, the planning, the marketing and the myriad other details to make it a success. But since it’s important to me it often gets that first precious hour or two.

There have been times when a book I was writing for me was most important. One result is Powerfully Recovered! The book and the website now take second place except on most Mondays.


What’s most important to you is what’s most important to you, not what you think should be most important. Nor is it something that someone else thinks should be significant to you. I consistently find if I do what’s most essential to me first, it gets done. So does work for my clients and other projects I have on my plate.

On the other hand, if I put less important things first that somehow is all that gets done, and what’s dear to my heart to me starts taking a back seat. When I let this go on too long, I start to resent the other work I have. On the other hand, when I do what I really want to do first for an hour or so, I not only make progress on that project I find I’m grateful for the other work.

A challenge: Put your most important writing work first for two weeks. See how well it works for you and how much you actually get done.  My bet is you’ll stick with this scheme forever and are more productive than you’ve ever been.

When do you do the writing that’s most important to you?

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Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by birgerking

 

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Luana Spinetti @ Writer's Mind December 21, 2012 at 7:26 am

Oh it happens all too often, especially since depression hit me back, full blown. I’ve had to re-learn how to prioritize my work AND how to listen to my guts, too. I’m going to write a blog post about it on Writer’s Mind on Monday. Would make a nice little Christmas entry, filled with hope even when everything seems lost.

Thanks for a wonderful article, Anne. It was encouraging and inspiring! :)

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annew December 21, 2012 at 8:00 am

Glad it was helpful, Luana. Not so by the way, I know depression is just awful and am glad you’re re-learning priories and paying attention to your intuition. I’m looking forward to your article Monday.

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Ali | Writers Blog December 18, 2012 at 6:38 am

Anne, Imp. stuff goes first, and for me, first means early morning. I usually try to do the most unwanted stuff first as once I slay the dragon, doing the less tedious work becomes even easier :)
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annew December 18, 2012 at 10:40 am

I can get way behind doing the stuff I don’t want to do first… for me it has to be the most important first.

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Amandah December 14, 2012 at 5:22 am

Right on! I do my most important writing in the morning. For example, I’m writing a second a book and am on a tight schedule so it’s priority number one. All other writing is scheduled for the afternoon. Of course, I’ll work on personal projects over the weekend. Sometimes, you need to take advantage of creative bursts of inspiration. :)
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annew December 18, 2012 at 10:34 am

Good example and yes, taking advantage of creative bursts also works.

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Cathy Miller December 14, 2012 at 4:04 am

Anne: My new goal for 2013 (one of many) is to reserve one hour each morning for my writing projects. Like so many freelancers, I am horrible at putting my projects 1st. They always come behind client work.

I rearrange my schedule for my daily walks (something that took awhile as well), I can find the time to put my writing first. Thanks for the inspiration, Anne, and BTW, love the photo. :-)
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annew December 18, 2012 at 10:32 am

Yeah, Cathy. We both know how to do it… it’s mostly a matter of actually doing it.

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Charlotte Rains Dixon December 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm

In doing a bit of year-end review, I realized that October was my best month ever financially. And it was also the month I spent every morning, without fail, writing first thing in the morning on my next novel. I feel strongly that this is not a coincidence! Thanks for another great post.
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annew December 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Charlotte! Congrats on both your best month ever and on sticking with your novel… glad you share that with us.

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Maria McCutchen December 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm

This was a great post with great advice. I guess because it was so fitting for me and I have been needing some gentle reminders to do things differently with my writing and my schedule, so that I am more productive. This was it. I am going to take your advice and do things the way you suggest. I hope I will see some difference; and am expecting I will.

Thanks again!
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annew December 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm

let us know how it works out. And you might like the support you can get in the 5 Buck Forum… http://aboutwritingsquared.com/join2.html For 5 a month it’s hard to go wrong.

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