I know I just blogged about writing success, but strap in because I’M DOING IT AGAIN.
Keeping up near daily writing is an achievement I’m incredibly proud of. Having difficulties with writing is the #1 thing I’ve complained and agonised about for what feels like the last 10 years. So I’m just as proud as I would be if I actually had something published. 95% of this turn around is the inspiration I’m suddenly hit with, and the other 3% is adjusting my expectations and the remaining 2% is stick-to-it-tiveness.
It started with “I’m going to sit down and write, or I’m going to do nothing.” That made me put my fingers on the keys, and start getting words on the page. Sometimes it’s like riding a bike after not riding a bike for years – you’re shaky and wobbly, but after a few minutes you start getting your balance, find impulsion, and you take off. Other times, it’s like riding a bike after not riding a bike for years – you’re shaky and wobbly and then you fall over sideways and give up for the day. It was during one of these “write or die” sessions that I got inspired. So that turned on the flame.
Another big thing was adjusting my expectations. For years, I was able to sit down for hours and write, and I’d write – like, pages of stories or essays or whatever. But then, the well dried up, and writing became more of an anxiety-inducing chore than the empowering, therapeutic hobby and life-sustaining activity that it used to be. A therapist tried to convince me that I needed to learn how to live “good enough,” because me putting myself up to impossible standards does nothing but scare me off from trying.
It took years before I could actually figure out that it was true. And one day, I was scrolling through memes (#1 hobby), and one said something to the tune of “it doesn’t matter what or how much you write. If I have an idea, I’ll write it on anything before it disappears – tissue, post it, torn piece of paper – I’ve written on the back of an ATM receipt. Getting it out of your head on to something – that’s writing.” And that’s when it all finally came together for me: writing is writing. If I write a sentence or 16 pages, it’s the effort, not the quantity. And that was such a simple, obvious, yet totally electrifying and freeing revelation that the next day on my lunch break, I got inspired by a thought I had while watching Mad Men that I wrote a short thing on the front and back of 6 post it notes. The day after that, I was riding home on the bus and jotted a few ideas down in my phone. That Sunday, I spent two hours working on the post it idea and ended up with a few pages. On Monday, I wrote a super short blog. Once I figured out that doing something with my ideas, is what I consider writing. Ideas are the bricks, and it doesn’t matter if they’re big bricks or small bricks, they all build to something. But I can’t build anything if I don’t make bricks.
Next, came the routine building. I know if I need flexibility, because – life is life. I have a set day-job schedule because I need to pay rent. So everything I do has to fit around work. I get home between 6-7PM depending on if our clinic runs over, if I have to go to the store after work, if I hit traffic or have bus delays or on SOME AWESOME DAYS having a combination of ALL the above. So that leaves 3 hours to make/have dinner, shower, talk to Joel, and try to get something done before needing to go to bed. On top of that, work occasionally takes an emotional toll on me (just the nature of the job). So some days I’m going to come home and just not be capable of doing anything. I told myself I only have to write 5 days out of the week. I give myself two free days. And so far that’s helping me stay on track.
So even if “daily writing” means I open up my laptop and typed two sentences in between eating/cleaning up dinner and going to bed, or 20 minutes of writing and deleting before taking an angry nap on the weekend, I stuck to my schedule. Coming home and writing is starting to become as automatic as coming home and putting on sweat pants.
And that’s a freakin miracle, you guys.