My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

When it's Hardest, Just Keep Writing (Personal Update)

Believe it or not, I have to hold my fingers about ten cm off the keyboard
for them to show up in the shot.
Image Description: Writer in coffee shop "hard at work."
It's been a busy month!

I mean aren't they all busy months these days?  With health and relationship problems, moving, and toddlers?

Yes, but this one has been extra busy with busy sauce and a side order of chaos. Plus a tall glass of iced swamp. Wrapping up summer school and prepping for fall, moving, and all the accompanying packing and unpacking tend to fill one's days. Plus it's not like I ever stopped toddler wrangling.

These are the times it's tough to write. They're the times you want to shove it to the back burner, maybe put that blog on hiatus, skip a week or two of daily writing while you move, pause the work in progress, and pick it back up when the deluge of life has ebbed a little. It's not like anyone would blame you.

These are also some the most important times to stick with it.

Of course, I've talked a lot lately about writing being the way through the emotional turmoil and how many artists take refuge and solace in their art (ironically clinging to it more tightly when life is doing its best to rip it away), and none of that has changed.

But there are also more pragmatic reasons to force oneself to the page with a conscientious effort.

I'm moved now. There's still a collection of crap at my old place I need to round up like old USB's and a zillion power cables. I've had more time this week than last week that wasn't claimed by driving back and forth from Hayward to Oakland, and more time last week than the week before. By next week I will have had my first day obligation free since moving.

And the writing has returned to a brisk clip. My sessions at the computer are getting longer and longer, and even starting to come easier. Even though I definitely was working against some "at rest" inertia, I've gotten back into the groove without much difficulty. I'm writing now at a "hungry" canter, and eager for my schedule to free up even a little more so that I can go into a gallop.

Sadly, I know a lot of writers who would take weeks, months, or maybe even years to get back into a regimen after a life upset. Breaks have a way of metastasizing, and life upsets have a way of never really going away. A writer who sets their writing to the side risks becoming pinioned by the mercurial fates of the external world. (And understand I don't mean their work in progress, which can be an incredibly draining and labor intensive project that can't be invested in during times of real strife, but some kind of daily, creative energy.) The graveyard of writers is littered with the bones of those whose last words were: "I'll get back to that as soon as life slows down."

Life never really slows down. Life is sort of a jerk like that.

You can either learn to make the time and space on the fly, or you can live your life waiting for the patches of perfect conditions which, should they come at all, will be so few and far between that the discipline and craft skill to fully exploit them will have atrophied.

Perhaps one of my most fortunate twists of fate was to learn how to be a writer long before I knew a thing about how to write. I figured out in my late teens and early twenties how to deal with the motivation and discipline part of sitting down to write even as I churned out ridiculous hackneyed manuscripts of Star Wars, Star Trek, and Willow clones with the serial numbers barely even filed all the way off.

Still, hacking my way through my own awful prose is really a secondary issue, especially if I respect the full scope of the writing process enough to not be afraid of drafting and lots of revision. If I had to pick a problem to deal with as a writer, I would pick "needs to revise a lot" every day and twice on cliche day.

I feel terrible, though, for some writers who are spectacular at the wordsmithing part, but can't reliably sit down and make it happen. A ton of writers who are a LOT better than me, and probably than I will ever be, can make something magical happen every time they put a pen to paper. However they just can not find the motivation on a regular basis. They write once or twice a month when a flash of inspiration moves them, and are frustrated for the other 99% of the time with their writer's block and unsurmountable life circumstances.

Through my move though, and all the surrounding personal drama, I never stopped writing every day (even if some of the sessions were only a few solid minutes). For me, that discipline has been absolutely key to being able to just restart like clockwork the minute life returned to a simmer.


  1. I love your posts. They help get my lazy ass to the computer to do some writing. Thanks for the inspiration!` MJ Zander

  2. I enjoy these sort of posts. I have a folder on my writing/college laptop titled, "Stop Procrastinating and Write Something You Lazy Bastard" which lays out all the things I need to fix, rewrite or write in my current WIP. I can't believe I let myself go two months without writing, so now it's a non-stop-no-motivation-needed coffee-and-self-hate-fueled journey to write everyday (or... maybe six days a week. Don't tell anyone. Here's a cookie).