There’s a lot of advice out there on writing. Like, a lot.
Which I don’t think is a bad thing, necessarily. I’ve read and learned quite a few invaluable pointers from some of the greats. My favorite books tend to be ones related to writing or creativity; I just adore trying to absorb habits and tricks from people who are successfully doing something I love.
The problem arises, at least for me, when I delve into one of these books, learn some practical tips, and rather than trying to apply them to my own writing, I say to myself, “Oh I just need to read this one next, then I’ll be ready.”
Girlfriend, get over it. You’ll never feel ‘ready.’ You’re ready now. Stop being lazy and write.
In other words, there comes a point where you need to stop reading/learning about something, and just do it. (10000% talking to myself here.)
In my unnecessarily large collection of books on creativity and writing, one theme is quite common: You must make time for it, consistently. You’re not always going to be inspired or motivated or even always enjoy it. But if you show up ready, the same time each day, your odds of a successful writing session go way, way up compared to your odds if you don’t show up at all.
So, I’ve been trying to show up. Trying to wake up that extra bit early to squeeze it in before I move on to the rest of my morning routine, before I even glance at my work email.
Most days, I do wake up that little bit early, but I just lie in bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking “it’ll be okay if I skip this morning, I can shoot for this evening instead.” And fall back asleep.
And sometimes, rarely, I find the time in the evenings and I write. But usually for like 20 minutes and then I’ve lost my attention span because my brain is fried from work and I just want to crawl into bed and keep watching Girls for the (I think 4th?) time.
“Why can’t I just focus and finish this piece? Wait, why am I even doing it? Why am I trying to force this? What’s the point?”
I asked a dear friend and fellow writer if she ever struggles with this and her response was exactly what I needed to hear:
“No one really likes writing. I heard a quote, ‘there’s nothing worse than having to write, but there’s nothing better than having written.’ And I think that’s so true. You don’t need to wait to reach some milestone or major accomplishment to call yourself a writer. If you say you’re a writer, you’re a writer. So write.”
I want to be a writer. I’ve said it on and off for just about as long as I can remember, dating back to second grade when I wrote my first novel, The School Wore. (The mis-spelling on the last word was actually “war,” not “whore.” Sorry to disappoint. The book was literally about a group of kids just getting into a big fight at school. I’ll see if my mom saved it – mom?)
I may never create such a masterpiece as The School Wore again, but I need to show up, consistently, and try.
As Michael Scott wrote on the dry erase board of the Michael Scott Paper Co. HQ, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” -Michael Scott -Wayne Gretzky.
A few weeks ago, a random Tuesday, I had some ruffled freaking feathers. And yes, it was because of a boy.
So obviously I was stubborn and dwelling. I thought I had let it go, but the following morning my eyes shot open at 4:45. I’d been having a dream about the guy and was so irritated, the anger actually woke me up.
I immediately noticed that my jaw was clenched and my entire body felt tense. Annoyed would be a remarkable understatement. However, upon realizing it was only 4:45am and I was wide-awake, I jumped out of bed and onto my laptop, and holy shit did I let it out.
I wrote and wrote without once thinking about what time it was or how long I’d been hunched over the keys. I let the frustration keep flowing. Then something magical happened.
My fingers finally stopped, I took a deep breath, and I realized I felt completely better. All of the frustration, irritation, desires to stab a particular human of the male species – gone. All that was left was relief.
“Damn that felt good,” I whispered to myself. And another thought appeared in my head like a marquee sign – this is why I write.
Not only to release my incredible frustration with the entire male population (although writing certainly does help), but because I think there truly is magic in writing. Oh don’t roll your eyes; you already know how cheesy I am.
There are, of course, many other reasons I adore writing. This list could probably never be exhaustive, but below are some of the biggies:
- Writing brings the joy and excitement of starting something without knowing where it will take you. Lovers of adventure and the unknown, unite!
- Writing is a hell of a coping mechanism, hello
- Writing can help you actualize thoughts on something and figure out how to navigate
- Writing is always willing to be your outlet when you’re in a goofy mood and just need to let out some silliness
- Writing puts you in the captain’s seat of your own little world. You make the rules
- And of course, there’s no better feeling than having written. You have a very real, tangible thing that came from your brain. You created it. Exactly how you wanted to create it. Read it over and over with delight. Share with the world – or don’t. (You should at least share with your mom.) It’s yours. And no one can take it from you.
Maybe you’re not a writer. But I bet you have something that makes you feel this way. So what are you waiting for?
You’re ready. Go do it.