Tyranny of the Urgent


Making Time to Write

There is a classic pamphlet in Christian literature called, “The Tyranny of the Urgent.” It discusses how urgent, deadline-driven tasks divert Christians from their devotion to God.

On a smaller scale, I see the same thing happening in my writing. Deadlines rob me of my writing time.
I’m speaking at such-and-such a conference, so I must finish my powerpoint presentation. I must complete the handouts.
I’m doing a school visit next week, so I have to stop and make sure everything is in order for book sales.
I’m writing a magazine article and the editor wants revisions by noon tomorrow.

Meanwhile, my novel languishes.

The classic book, Art and Fear, details it this way:
Art&Fear“One well known painter, after several months of careful record keeping, reached the discouraging conclusion that even at best he could free up only six or seven days a month for actually painting, while the remaining twenty-one days, inevitably went to gallery business, studio clean-up, UPS runs and the like. Moral: There’s one hell of a lot more to art than just making it. In many cases, the art you make today will reach its audience tomorrow only because of a vast societal network geared to the arts education, funding, criticism, publication, exhibition and performance.” pp66-67

If all we did was write, we could write all the time. But if we want publication, then it comes with a host of urgent deadlines. Our job is to carve out the time to write in spite of this.

Don’t let the Urgent be a Tyrant that makes you forget the Important.

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1 Comment
  • Sydney Salter
    October 30, 2009

    I was particularly struck by that passage myself, Darcy. I loved, loved, loved, Art & Fear. Yesterday I only eked out about 300 words of my WIP because of all the other business-related stuff. Good luck with your novel!