Priorities: A Case Study

March 19, 2009 at 3:12 PM | Posted in Life | 9 Comments
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Priorites. They’re always hovering in the mind of the teen writer, mostly because writing is a big, loud one. This so-called hobby simultaneously drains our energy and keeps us going, distracts us and keeps us focused, makes us interesting and also sculpts us into antisocial weirdos. So how exactly does writing factor into our lives? Where does it fall on the priority scale? Let’s delve into a few cases…

The Constant: School > Writing

Just by our very nature, teen writers tend to be horrible overachievers. What other kind of student would go home and write not for English class but for fun, follow grammar rules and writing guidelines for fun, work on the skills of a possible future career for fun, do this thing that some would label “actually productive” for fun? Face it: we’re nerdfaces. This creates a problem in many cases.

Scenario. It is 11PM. You are writing. You have a 100-point History exam tomorrow. You know nothing and have not studied. This is a problem.

Traditionally, a kid engrossed in some activity at 11PM – Facebook, partying, etc. – would blow off the test. They wouldn’t really care. But a teen writer cannot fail any test, because that would go against our secret, shameful belief that we are special and highly intelligent. So we slink off from the computer or notebook like a wounded puppy to study (or work on that essay, or whatever). Sadness.

The Procrastination: Procrastinating schoolwork > School > Procrastinating other responsibilities > Other responsibilities > Procrastinating writing > Writing

This is me. I am a huge procrastinator – I’m doing it right now. Procrastinating schoolwork. I’m also procrastinating washing my clothes (it’s urgent – I’m down to 0 pairs of socks). And washing the dishes, which my dad has been yelling at me about for hours. I’d say I’m procrastinating writing, but right now, writing is so far down on the list I’m not even thinking about it.

That’s the problem: writing isn’t quite mindless enough to count as a “procrastination activity” like watching TV or doodling, but it’s not quite important enough to be done before schoolwork due tomorrow and urgently needed laundry. For teens, writing counts as a hobby, which can be a death sentence in our fairly hectic lives. And writing is hard, so even if we have the free time to write, watching reruns of sitcoms you don’t even like often feels like a better option… somehow. This is a problem.

The Truth: Writing > Social life

If being a teen writer makes us overachievers, our love of working alone all day makes us true introverts. Basically, we tend to have no lives. Sometime during our development, we got a gene that made blowing off our friends and staying at home to write sound more fun than going outside and socializing for god’s sake. This isn’t always the case, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of if it is. We get plenty of interaction at school and on the internet. Yes, we do. No, seriously. Shut up.

The Parent’s Wishful Thinking: School > School-related activities > Family, friends, other hobbies not taking place in front of computer > Writing

In the mind of many parents, writing as a hobby could perhaps only beat out standbys such as “parties with rampant drug and alcohol use” and “doing favors for men with shaved heads behind the iHop.” Writing-detesting parents come in many forms, including:

The Left Brain. “Work on your math homework.” “I thought you wanted to be a doctor.”
The Worrier. “But how are you going to support yourself?” “You don’t want to be like your Uncle Rick – remember he was so poor and then he shot himself.”
The This-Isn’t-How-I-Raised-You. “I saw a curse word! Do you have sex in there, too?! Bestiality?!”
The Just-Doesn’t-Get-It. “You’ve been on there for half an hour already.” “Your brother wants to play World of Warcraft.”

Of course, many moms and dads out there are highly supportive, or indifferent at worst. And we should be thankful for the roof and computer – or college aid – they provide us with (even if the computer is in the living room – seriously, the living room?). But the haters are out there. It’s up to us to deal, and quietly leave them out of our acknowledgments when the time comes. Maybe.

The Dream: Writing > Friends, other hobbies > Anything besides school > School

For all our grade obsessing, deep down I think all teen writers hate school with the burning fire of a thousand suns, with one of the bigger reasons being that it interferes with our grand writing plans. You know, finish that book by x date, write a thousand words tonight – all of it is sabotaged by The Monster. This is why summer is so great. Yes, we look forward not to beach trips and the pool, but having endless hours to write (read: sit in front of the computer).

So Twifties, how does writing play into your life? Where does it fall on your scale?

~Emilia

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  1. Haha I love this! It’s so true. Writing is way higher on my list than it should be! My parents actually want me to be more of a party animal, because I prefer writing to going to a club with my friends. Why waste money and get drunk when I can sit here, for free, and have fun?! I also find my Uni work interfers with my writing – note the way around it is! Apparently, Uni is more important, but to me, I enjoy my writing way more and think of it as my life’s calling now. Not sitting in a stuffy lecture room!
    The only thing writing doesn’t cancel out is eating. I’ll stop writing whatever it is I’m writing to eat my dinner, or go out for dinner with friends quite happily. I’m a fat girl in a slim girl’s body – I swear!

  2. Haha I love it too! Mine goes Writing > School > Homework > Horses > Friends

    I’m a severe introvert. I’d rather sit in the library and read all lunch than sit in the lunch room and socialize. Horses will probably go over School and Homework as soon as summer comes.

    Haha Chanelley, I eat my dinner while writing. :)

  3. Loved it!
    I think I have to go give you a rep on AW, now.
    For me, writing is absolutely last. Sort of.
    It goes:
    school > important (new) episodes I NEED to watch > writing fanfiction or forumming or blogging > hanging out with my mom > writing > schoolwork > exercising
    But the order changes. I looooove writing, unless I feel like I really SHOULD be writing. then it’s really hard to start.
    Friends are…sort of on that list. I’m not an introvert at school. I am VERY social, very talkative, very loud. But once I get home…I don’t really like going out and stuff. I’m a totally different person once the school day is over.

    • haha, I know what you mean. This is me at school:
      “Oh my god! *cracks joke* We should totally hang out. *participates in crazy antics* Oh my god are you serious?! Did she seriously say that?! *skips class to hang out with friends during their lunch*”
      This is me at home:
      “*goes into room, stays there the whole night* *parents walk in* Go away. *friend calls* Er, no… I can’t go out, sorry, my mom wants me to do something… *just lied* *writes, surfs net* *goes to sleep*”
      It’s a sad, yet oddly satisfactory existence. lmao.

      • Haha, same here. At school I’m a little ray of sunshine, but home transforms me into a hermit. :D No, I can’t go to the beach. I’m too busy doing nothing. Bug off.

        And school? Pffft. I’m so sick of being a prodigy. My grades hath flopped. I should probably get that looked at.

        Sleep > eating > writing > reading > social life > school < health

        Yeah. Fantabulous post, Peachie. :D

    • OMG! I’m exactly the same as you two!

      I think I am social, just lazy :D

      Great post, BTW Peachie :D. Made me giggle :D

  4. This pretty much sums up how my life goes. I sit in front of the computer all day, parents tell me to go outside, don’t respond when I say “And do what?”, then repeat over a couple months.

    Now, though, they’re starting to limit my computer time, knowing full well that’s not going to get me outside when there’s nothing to do.

  5. Hey, love the blog. I confess I’m no teen anymore (29, aaargh!) but I still relate to so much of what you guys post! At school I spent all my breaks and study time scribbling stories on scraps of paper, and at work it’s still much the same. Actually, I probably get more done at work on a quiet day than I do when I sit down at my computer at home, because at home the damn internet distracts me for hours on end! Just like it is now! And my husband’s always going off out with our friends and most of the time I stay home. They think I’m pretty weird! I hate that life’s always getting in the way of my writing.

    • Thanks for commenting, Naomi <3 It’s funny how you have such a parallel… teacher turns into boss, weirded-out friends grow into, uh, weirded-out friends. Glad to know my irresponsible spirit will have a chance under the pressure of real life! :)


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