I have a confession to make. I fell short of my goal to read 12 books in 2016. Truth be told, I’m not nearly as avid of a reader as you would expect. I do have good reason, however, and it’s not what you would think because I absolutely LOVE to read… therein lies my problem. I love to read so much that a good book will absolutely consume me. Few things will sour my mood faster than having to abruptly stop reading and see to someone else’s needs. I have a young family, for the good of everyone I had to cut back. In my last post, I talked about an earlier tendency to lose myself in my school work (see Florence & Ursula), and the same is absolutely true for my writing. You don’t have to dig too deep to find that I have been writing for my entire (adult) life. I’m one of those people who have volumes of college-ruled spiral-bound notebooks, filled cover to cover with different writings and musings. I write in moments of joy, sorrow, prayer and everything in between. For as long as I can remember, I have dedicated 20-30 minutes of (almost) every day to writing. The times that I’ve fallen out of this habit have, without a doubt, been my most unsettled and un-centered. As I’m making the transition from writing for pleasure to writing with a purpose, I can easily be consumed by the desire to write. When I feel a wave of creativity or inspiration, I literally want to drop everything and head to my computer. The trouble is, that is rarely an option. With kids, a husband, a job and other areas of involvement, most days I don’t get to write nearly as much as I want to, and it affects me.
After receiving a rejection letter from one of my ill-fated, over-eager submissions, I hit a patch of “What’s the point?” (Have you been there?… “What’s the point?”, “I’m wasting my time”, etc. etc.) For the three weeks or so that I avoided my computer, I was irritable, restless, and short- tempered. I remember thinking that I needed a kick-boxing class, to give myself a release for all the pent-up, unhappy energy I was filled with. Alas, there was no kickboxing class to be found, and that wasn’t what I needed anyway. After a moment of clarity, I did something even better than punching the air; I re-read my manuscript and started writing again. It was after I returned from my brief, but painful hiatus, that I realized I feel the same irritation when my writing is interrupted as when my reading is. I also quickly recognized that stepping back from writing is not an option, as evidenced by my terrible mood in the preceding weeks (as evidenced by… a nursing term that just slipped right in.) I found myself with a similar problem in need of a different solution.
Instead of rushing to my computer every time the desire strikes me, I’m trying to schedule time in each day where I can dedicate myself to it, and hold on to my thoughts until I get there. The most obvious and important change is the fact that I am writing with more intention. Scheduling writing time for myself, and honoring those boundaries, allows me to share more present energy to the precious little (and big) people around me. What’s been an interesting development for me, is that as I am learning how to channel my creativity, I am finding unexpected benefits to it. It seems that the longer the ideas and inspiration have to sit in my head until I can find my computer, the stronger they are once I put them on paper. What always felt like a hindrance, may actually be a great tool in my writing toolbox. When I’m channeling my creative urges, I find that my writing-brain feels healthy and in better shape than ever. Now, as a writer, I can be productive whether I’m at my computer, in the carpool line or traveling on business.
Ironically enough, I’ve been interrupted at least a dozen times in the past 600 words… it’s like they’re reading over my shoulder and forcing me to put these things into practice. (Since “they” are toddlers, I know it’s not possible). If I want to be taken seriously as a writer, and continue to pursue this dream long term, I need to figure out how to have writing fit seamlessly into the life that surrounds me. So I take my lessons in patience (more on that another day), add it to this new creative channeling process and maybe I’ll be closer to finding my perfect writing formula.
Thanks for reading, come back anytime,