The theme of my weekend has been writing. How can I do it? When? Where?
I think a lot about my need to *practice* writing – to put in the 10,000 hours it takes to master a skill. The idea of cultivating my writing *practice* appeals to me; it means that even on days like today, when I am playing on the blog, journaling, but not working on any specific fiction piece – even on days like this, I am practicing, and that is important and valuable.
I’ve been writing about feeling frustrated, because I haven’t been able to establish a regular writing routine yet in 2018. But today, I am reminding myself about a golden rule in my life: Everything always comes back. One of the biggest things I’ve learned about myself is that my motivation and drive to do the things I love will always come back. I may have a rut in my reading, my writing, my running – but eventually, my motivation returns, and I don’t have to do a thing to make it happen.
This post is sort of a smorgasboard of thoughts about writing. When I do the deathbed test, my biggest fear is that I’ll have never written a book before I die. THAT’S A HUGE BLINKING ARROW POINTING ME TOWARD WHAT I WANT. And what I want is to do the thing I’ve been dreaming of doing since I was 10 years old.
I know that I can’t control most things – like whether I ever write something worthy of being published. But one thing I can control is SHOWING UP. I can show up at my computer, ready to go. I can be here, at my keyboard, when inspiration strikes or doesn’t. I can be present and ready to go.
I have a little project I’ve been working on that I’m excited about. The reason why I started this project is that I finished reading a certain kind of book, and realized that I wanted more. I often write short stories, and I enjoy that; I often write blog posts, and I enjoy that. But. I rarely enjoy READING either short stories or blog posts. Lately, I’ve been thinking that it will be easier and more fun to get invested in writing a book that’s the kind of book I love to read! I want to write a book that is suspenseful and easy to read. I daydream about writing a series, in which you stay with a few main characters over time and get to know them really, really well.
I heard a piece of advice on Pod Save America recently. (This is the second time I’ve quoted advice from these guys, which is unusual; they did a call-in show, and one of the questions was ‘the best advice you ever got,’ and it seems their answers resonated with me profoundly.) One of the podcasters, Jon Lovett, was talking about trying to decide what to write, what project to work on next. He said he was advised to answer these questions:
- What’s the thing you have to write?
- What’s the thing only you can write?
I think that sometimes my inner critic tells me that I don’t have anything unique or special to write. But – everyone has a perspective, a story to tell. I don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but I’m seeking them, and that’s enough for now.
The thing about turning 35 (my birthday was in December 2017) that’s been different from all my other birthdays is the pressure (if you look at it one way) or motivation (if you look at it another way) to be living my bliss and doing something important and unique. With my work life being pretty stressful and unfulfilling at this moment, I’ve felt really lost – purposeless.
When I calm down and feel more centered, I realize that my writing can be my purpose – my touchstone – the thing I do every day to ground me, the thing that I someday hope will have a larger purpose in my life. I want my life to have purpose, meaning, structure, love, inspiration – and really, my writing can do all of this.