Deciding Which Hat to Put on Next

In my various roles as a teacher, a graduate student, an editor, a blogger, and a novelist, prioritizing the different types of writing I need to do day to day is my biggest challenge. I want to spend the most time working on my fiction projects, but academic work of various sorts often seems more urgent, whether it is grading my students’ papers, composing lesson plans, or completing writing projects for classes I am taking. The blogs, although they are fun, tend to be last in line for attention, but these can also lead to paid freelance work, for which I also have to make time.

Even though I have been a professional writer for about twenty years, I still find myself sometimes falling victim to some of the specious entrapments that Paul Silva (2007) mentions in “How to Write a Lot.” I do dedicate certain times to writing, but I am often not rigid enough about it, and I allow too many distractions like email and social media to disrupt that time. When there is writing I don’t especially want to do, I can procrastinate as well as any of my Freshman Comp students. Elizabeth Gilbert’s (2009) TED talk about the perceived relationship between creativity and suffering is also a good reminder that the fate of the world is not on my shoulders every time I sit down to write something. It does not always have to be perfect, and I do now always have to demonstrate earth-shattering insight. Some days, it is enough that I simply got a few paragraphs down on the page or that I did some useful research.


Gilbert E. (2009). Your elusive creative genius. Video file.  Retrieved from

Sylvia, P. (2007). How to write a lot: a practical guide to productive academic writing. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.


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