In high school I played percussion, but I never mastered a tuneful instrument–which I’ve always regretted. So, I recently started taking dulcimer lessons. The instrument and the music are rooted in Appalachia, as am I. In short, it’s important to me.
But so far, I’ve managed only one lesson and one practice per week– usually the morning of the lesson. This is not the road to proficiency!
Write my twice-weekly blogs. Submit a short story. Come up with and deliver a couple of tattoo stories to honor Amy Black. Spend Easter with my family in New England. And on and on.
AND THAT BRINGS ME TO FIRST THINGS VS. IMPORTANT THINGS.
It’s easy to fill your life with things that are right in front of you–or that have a date certain–and never get around to some things that are truly more important.
When my children were little I often lamented the clutter and mess in my house. (I was a psychology professor at the time.) One day a friend with four children just older than mine said, “If they aren’t doing structural damage, don’t worry about it.”
Which brings us to the point: LOOK AT HOW YOU SPEND YOUR TIME AND DECIDE WHICH FIRST THINGS CAN BE MOVED TO LAST. If writing is truly important to you, make time for it.
And so, off to practice dulcimer!
Interested in learning more about writing? Join me at Agile Writers for my class on Write Your Life: Memoir and Memoir-Based Fiction. For more information, visit the Agile Writers website.
ONE: I will write something every day.
TWO: I will set a realistic daily goal. It can be minutes, hours, word count, or pages, so long as it is quantifiable. (One needs to be clear on whether the goal was met.) And keep it realistic. (Why set up for failure?)
THREE: I will create a writing diary/calendar and record my writing achievement every day. I’ll star every day I meet or exceeded my goal.
FOUR: I will reward myself. I will treat myself whenever I accumulate X-number of stars.
FIVE: I will read at least one book about the craft of writing.
SIX: I will read at least one book on self-editing.
SEVEN: I will attend at least one writing conference, book festival, or class.
EIGHT: I will read at least one book in my genre with a conscientiousness of how I would have done it differently.
NINE: I will be supportive of writers. This includes not beating up on them or myself!
What if an uninvited guest drops by?
Happy half-hour was typically celebrated with our workshop group, followed by dinner during which we dispersed among the other writers present. Then we adjourn to the renovated Rec Hall for 8:00 readings. On Sunday night, Cathy Hankla and Sheri Reynolds read and Charlotte Morgan gave us our marching orders about the week’s structure.
For many years I’ve traveled to Nimrod Hall in Millboro, Virginia, for their annual writing retreat. Nimrod has inspired several of my stories and given me hours of valuable writing time.
Last year I kept a travel log of my two weeks at Nimrod. I shared everything from packing my bags…
…to the wild women writers I met there.
As I prepare to depart, I look forward to my misty morning walks,
and family-style meals with writer friends,
and uninterrupted writing time.
This year I will share my travel log on my Facebook page. I hope you’ll join me there.
Nimrod Hall, established in 1783, has been providing summer respite from everyday stress since 1906. It has been operating as an artist and writer colony for over 25 years. The Nimrod Hall Summer Arts Program is a non-competitive, inspirational environment for artists to create without the distractions of everyday life.