For years I thought I was the least ideal “writer” as I did not have a daily writing habit. I punished and berated myself endlessly. Yet, in the past four years I’ve written a novel, a book of short stories, a nonfiction book about finance. Then, yesterday I found a slew of stories — about 18 of them — that I had forgotten about!
How does one forget about so many stories?! I’m still trying to figure that out. I guess I could say my life intruded with its nonstop responsibilities (as we all have) and my three children (two teenagers and a 2-year-old). Yet, can that answer why I did not recall having penned over 50,000 words across these stories?
There must be something else going on in my mind, right? I think not. I think it’s simply that little thing we always hear. If you do not have a daily writing practice you are not a writer; you are a dreamer. I added myself to the dreamer category unconsciously sometime in the past five, or six years. It’s only in recent months that I am forcing myself to have a writing schedule and put in place some accountability (Thanks @StoryDam! There’s a #StoryDam chat every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST). Now that I am paying more attention to my inner landscape and my actual written output, I can clear away some of the morass and see reality.
I work better when a part of a writing community. It’s that simple. I am not the Lone Ranger. I work better within a group even if it is virtual. Now that I know this, I feel infinitely better and am more productive and happy. (I like connecting with writers on Tuesday nights with the #writestuff chat hosted by @penpaperpad. For workshopping stories, and taking writing classes, LitReactor is pretty awesome!).
I realize that I do not have to write every day in order to classify myself as a writer. I must make a concerted effort to put my writing first as often as I can given my life and my personal responsibilities. If I do not take care of myself and my needs, then there is nothing anyone can do when I’m no longer here. Meaning? I need balance as well.
Finding just the right balance is tricky as the “right” balance looks different even for the same person at different points in their lives. Being kind and loving to oneself and knowing when you’re conning yourself is key. If you know you binge-watched five seasons of [insert your private favorite show here] and there’s no more free time left to write because of it — don’t blame anyone else! 🙂
(Tempting though it is!)
Don’t beat yourself up but next time free time appears, take advantage of it. Help yourself by writing a quick note to yourself about what goals you want to accomplish the next time you have 20 minutes in front of your writing device of choice. Yup, you do not have to schedule an hour, or two at a time. What if you don’t have that much block free time? Then what? No writing? Take what you can get and keep it moving.
How do you work best as an artist?