Making Time for Your Own Projects
I'm looking sadly at my Word folder labeled "Short Stories." Although fiction has always been my first love, I haven't touched that folder in so long that I wouldn't be surprised to see the cyber equivalent of a dust bunny role by.
Beside my computer, I have two books and a half-dozen Internet references about Victorian death photography. That subject has always held a morbid fascination for me, and I've been planning to write an article about it for months. It hasn't happened yet.
There are at least a dozen other personal projects that I've been planning to work on for months. Somehow, they keep getting shoved aside in favor of my clients' projects. That's only good business, of course. I know my clients will pay me, and I might never make a dime merrily pursuing my own interests. There has to be a balance, though. I'm worried that constantly shuffling my own projects to one side will leach all the joy out of writing for me.
So, how do I go about writing what I love without letting my clients down or falling behind on the work that brings in the bacon? Over the last few days, I've developed a three-prong plan of attack.
I carefully schedule time for my clients and their projects, so why not show myself the same consideration? I know myself well enough to realize that anything that doesn't get written on my to-do list won't get done. As of now, working on my pet projects will be on the top of my to-do list instead of on my oh-by-the-way-if-I-get-time list.
"Reframing" is a term I'm borrowing from my social work background. It means putting a new, preferably positive, slant on something. For instance, instead of seeing the time I spend on personal projects as "wasteful" or "self indulgent," why not see it as time spent "honing my skills" or even "discovering new sources of revenue?"
When I'm working for a client, I don't "try to make time" for his or her project, nor do I "do it if I get around to it." I commit to making the time to do the job and do it right. Again, do I owe myself anything less? As of tonight, I commit to spending at least half an hour on my personal projects. I don't know whether they'll succeed or fail–probably a little of each–but I do know that making this commitment to myself will restore the thrill I've always associated with writing.
How do you make time for your personal projects?