Writing vs. The To-Do List

Writing is at the top of my to-do list. It’s listed there in large, blue type so I see it first thing whenever I open the file. It comes before completing a project for my granddaughters, ordering a flag, sending a condolence note, sending bookplates to a couple of readers, writing a thank you note, returning emails, and making a photo album for 2021. The other things matter to me, some a great deal, and some are so timely they get moved high on the list. But if I start with those things each morning, I’ll never get to my writing.

Working from home means ignoring a lot, and ignoring is hard to do. Even without kids living here, the stuff of life crowds into my work space and begs me to pay attention. I recently learned of a concept called the attention economy, where human attention is a scarce commodity for which businesses compete. This is evidenced by every marketing attempt surrounding our lives, but it also relates to my own, private, quiet life.

It’s important to make room for and pay attention to what matters. This especially means valuing our time and actively choosing to spend it with people we care for. We don’t want stuff. We want relationships.

Writing might seem solitary, but for me it means making connections with people. My novels help me grow, bring me closer to the people I love, and eventually connect me with other people across time and space. They are worth doing, like other art, even if that means putting off certain tasks and possibly never getting to them at all.

Maybe art belongs at the top of your list, too.

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