"I have got to learn not to believe I have to do everything immediately."
--May Sarton, Encore: A Journal of the Eightieth Year
I've often quoted Sarton's journals, which are all about the day-to-day life of a writer. She was writing decades ago and in a time before the internet took over our lives, but so many of the issues she discusses are evergreen. She talks about professional disappointments and envy. She talks about what she enjoys in other writers' work, and how much she appreciates the support of friends. She discusses money, and fear, and uncertainty, and anger, and the hunger for solitude. She recounts the difficulty of finding time and energy to work, of the times when inspiration won't strike, of the times when a poem gets stuck coming out, or falls flat, or gets overworked. She reports the satisfaction of words falling into place.
One constant in the journals is the feeling of pressure, of too much to do, of not enough time. Writers' lives have only gotten busier. I derive great satisfaction from my to-do lists, and they help keep me on track. But sometimes I find myself adding more and more items, feeling more and more as if life is an endless round of chores. And then I remind myself, as Sarton says above, that it's okay to let some things wait. Or even drop altogether.
Or, as Nora Ephron says in I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman:
"We can't do everything.
I have been given the secret of life."