Making your career a priority

Every month I do a short piece for the Los Angeles Romance Authors newsletter in my capacity as their president. This was November’s. Enjoy!

There was a point in my life several years ago where I wasn’t writing. I had won a contest, submitted my stories to Harlequin, and quickly got the boot. I got discouraged and weary, and tossed in the towel. I still called myself a writer, and had several first drafts of books that I was going to get back to “someday” but wasn’t pursuing.

One day I got sick of the “someday” part. I had been wondering for weeks/months which of the first drafts I was going to revise. I told myself I was stuck and couldn’t decide and therefore was doing no writing. Whatever internal part of me was ready to get back to it simply told me to sit down, shut up, and pick one. For the first time in a few years, I listened.

Since that time five years ago I’ve slowly developed good habits. I started with a commitment to write for at least fifteen minutes a day. I could do fifteen minutes. Who couldn’t find fifteen minutes to carve out to write every single day? As I stuck to that I expanded it, growing first the length of time and then the word count.

Today things are even more challenging in my non-writing career then they were back when I got serious about going back. If anything, my office job that takes a great deal of mental energy in a typical nine to five (or in my case, six) block of time is even more demanding than it was when I got serious about going back to writing. I have multiple agendas that I juggle and several people who report in to me and want my time and attention. It would be easy to say “I’m way too busy to write.” And people would understand. I’m tired, I have work to do, I don’t have time to focus on writing.

I would know those were just excuses. I’ve used all of them. Today I don’t use them. Today I have a daily routine that I stick to. It is more than some people do and less than others but it enables me to keep my writing going in the face of a demanding job. I’ve put aside those excuses—they only get me another day not writing and not trying to pursue my passion.

Writing is hard work. When I was not writing I was convinced the moment I picked up the pen again I surely would get recognition and fame. Yeah…not so much. There is no guarantee of success even if you work hard and do all the “right” things. But today I get up every morning and I start typing, or editing, or blogging (or all three) in the time frame I have given myself as part of my morning routine to work toward my goals. Nobody is promised anything. I know, though, that if I don’t do these things, if I don’t stay focused on what I want to achieve, the only person I am short-changing is myself. That is the best motivation I could hope for. That is how I keep my career a priority.

Claire Davon

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