Sunday, December 21, 2008


I’ve been thinking a lot about priorities, since with the end of the semester I had to meet those final deadlines as both a student and a teacher, and I had to set my writing aside to make sure I was spending time on the appropriate things (this is very much on my mind right now because I had hoped to get some work done on a specific story this weekend but I ended up having to A, do laundry, B, grade papers and submit my final grades, and then C, spend time with my husband). The end of the semester always makes me think about how we set priorities and how we squeeze writing into our otherwise busy schedules.

Of course, one of the major draws to an MFA program is that it forces you to set your creative writing as a top priority. If you work full time as a – whatever – and your writing is a sort of a hobby on the side (by hobby I don’t mean to belittle creative writing, but instead classify it based on how it fits in to our lives…) you have to take the initiative to decide to write instead of doing whatever else you could be doing. As an MFA student, of course, there’s also some choice in it (you can choose not to do your homework, as many of us know full well) but it IS expected of you that you will be writing regularly.

But whether you’re an MFA student or not, where we go as writers all comes down to how we set our priorities, and what we set as our priorities. Sometimes I’m not very good with prioritizing, as my not-so-clean-right-now cabin can prove. But whether you’re good with prioritizing or not, if you want to make it as a writer, you have to learn to set writing as a top priority, and an MFA program can be used as a kind of fool-proof way of doing that. Sure, you can slack off as a student, you can procrastinate and not take it very seriously, but either you spend at least some time on writing, or you won’t make it through the program. Period.

And the higher you can set writing on your priority list, the better writer you’ll be.

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