Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ask Yourself: What is My Best Writing Work for the Day?

"Is the work I do today my best work? Is it the most crucial work? Is it what will make the most positive and lasting impact on my life? On my family's lives? On my career? On my ministry?"
-Whitwer, 17

I've been reading a life-changing book. Its called Taming the To-Do List by Glynnis Whitwer. Its been causing me to ask the important questions not only of my writing life but of everything I do.

525,600 minutes as the popular musical tune tells us are the number we have each year.

As 2015 comes to a close many of us find ourselves evaluating how we've spent our time. We create one words, pray about our new year and think about what we will change with God's help.

I wish I'd spent more time on Facebook. I wish I had spent less time playing on the floor with my kids. I regret all the time I spent in the Word of God. Said no one ever.

But what will you say about your writing life this year?

I'm not talking about regret that you didn't get an agent or sign that contract. What I mean is the hundreds of little decisions that make up your writing life every day and the occasional large decisions that can be life-altering.

So what choices do I face in the average day?

Will I do the sometimes tedious work of editing an article or will I put it off for another hour while I focus on keeping up with social media (i.e. pinning one hundred dresses on my Pinterest account while convincing myself this is the best work for my story since I need to research historical details about my mc's bustle)...?

Will I say yes to a volunteer position that takes up time best used for other priorities?

Will I put myself out there to write a blog post that is deep and penetrating...or stick with a safe subject because I don't want to offend a friend who might misinterpret my words?

Will I listen to the contest feedback I received and put the hard work and time into editing yet another time, or convince myself I know best?

If I'm on a deadline, will I convince myself I don't have enough time to read the word today, at the same time quenching the Spirit within who gives all gifts for His purpose?

Will I let pay tempt me into taking an opportunity that might not be God's best for me?

Will I let fear of rejection or failure (or even success) keep me "stuck" in my writing choices?

On the other hand, will I ignore an opportunity from God because it doesn't give me the exposure I might hope for?

Not all doors that open are from God and I need to be discerning. What appears to be a good opportunity can fuel pride, lead to compromise, or just not be God's best. God has shut several doors for me this autumn. We can say thank you in the moment for those as He opens up our eyes later to his priorities for our writing life.

I'm also discovering that like our lives in general our writing lives can be filled up with opportunities and good things that lead to exposure or pay or something else...but that again may not be the best things.

"When my choices are fueled by self-focused need, my best-work is seldom done."-Whitwer

Whitwer hints that we often put off the very things we most need to do in favor of the easiest.

What are we searching for?

"Sometimes it was comfort, such as when I chose something I knew how to do, rather than pushing myself to learn something new. (Sometimes I know I'm tempted to fiddle with genres that I know I find easier, rather than pushing myself in fear of failure). Other times it was safety, such as when I preferred to not deal with a hard or scary possibility (What if I never get published? Am I wasting my time? Can I really put myself out there emotionally and face rejection?) Or maybe I was hungering for the applause of others when they saw how much I got done. (Saying yes to an opportunity for the sake of money or recognition instead of seeking out God's best, even if that means obscurity and lack of payment for my work).

What are you searching for? How is it keeping you from living your best writing life and choosing the best writing work for your day?

Julia Reffner enjoys writing both fiction and nonfiction from her home in central Virginia. She writes and reviews for Library Journal, is a contributor to Wonderfully Woven and is active in the Proverbs 31 COMPEL writing community.


Tamara Narayan said...

Hi Julia! It's so good to hear from you. I hope all is going well in Virginia. This year has been pretty good, writing-wise. I released a collection of three stories in March called Ursa Major and Other Stories, advertised it during the April A to Z Blogfest with giveaways, and even got a couple of reviews. This November, I released another three story collection (Heart Stopper and Other Stories), but haven't done anything big to promote it. My daughter and I are working on a book trailer. I'm still fiddling around with the historical novel, but hope to jump back into querying early next year. Then I want to start a new novel. Plenty to do, but I easily get distracted by illness, holidays, unbelievably warm weather, and so many other things. Keep in touch!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, that's awesome! I need to go check them out! As you know I love your historical! I'm excited to see some of the other stuff I know I've seen now in collections! That's neat that the trailer is a project you and your daughter can do together. If you ever need beta readers, happy to help out! Miss the Rochester writing group. There is a HUGE writing group here and a smaller one that I've occasionally attended but it doesn't always work for my schedule so right now I've been getting most of my critiques from the online community.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Thought-provoking, Julia. I definitely get tempted to choose for the applause/approval of men, rather than because God's calling me to do something. I so appreciate your perspective, and the first question you offer: What am I searching for? If it's for anything other than God's best for me, it will falls short.

Loved this. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Julia M. Reffner said...


Yes, its definitely a temptation isn't it? I loved the questions in Whitwer's book and recommend it to anyone who is struggling with their priorities and busyness (who isn't?). Have a great Christmas, Jeanne!