Are you writing? No, of course not. You’re reading this. And I’m writing this, which is not my novel, or poem, short story, memoir-essay, or even a piece of flash fiction. It’s a piece about craft, about the how-to of what we do. And it’s easier than the doing itself. So is reading about craft.
Becoming a writer is a funny business. Who among us imagined that we would have to be brave–brave of topic, or brave of self, daily confronting our shortcomings? And who imagined that, once having sat quietly with only our minds and writing implements, that dreamy place wouldn’t be a place we’d race to, forgoing all else? Some days it is, of course. But to be a writer is an odd combination of dreamy and discipline, and for me, there are days where balancing my checkbook is more appealing, because I know it’s a task, concrete and finite, that I can do. Getting to the dreamy place, every day, is much, much harder.
Writers famously struggle with this. A friend who hasn’t known me long gave me a mug that says I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO PROCRASTINATE. Sigh. There is email. And purchasing the right sized aquarium filters on Amazon. And getting to the grocery store. And whatever family crisis is foremost for the day, this week replacing my car. All of this interrupts the delicate space of creativity.
We do what we can to create and protect that space. We long for, and sometimes get to, writing retreats. We write in circles once a week. And we swear, or at least, I swear, that I am going to be better about my daily practice. Because real writers write every day, I’m told. And I’m a real writer. Aren’t I?
I am. I write. But not every day. Not often enough. I am staring down the new year, and I want to do better, to establish better habits. To write new material every day. To read more. To meditate, because meditating is great for everything. To look at my life and figure out how to make it so. Aristotle famously said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
So it is time to look at my habits. What am I going to do differently? What time of day am I going to write this year? Where? What will I be working on this particular day? How will I start? What gets in the way? How to reward and encourage myself? How to keep the long goal in mind? How not to let the real world (politics, financial crises, the needs of family members,) bully my dream world out of existence?
This is the year that I finish the novel I’m currently working on. That I complete poems, yet unimagined, for the volume I’ve been collecting for five years. All I have to do is be a writer and write…every day. I take heart in Graham Greene, who wrote 500 words a day. 500! I can do that. So can you. The greater effort will be to figure out what stands in the way, and make a better road for ourselves. 2018. The road to our writing success.
Diana Gordon will be offering her 6 week January Re-Boot Camp starting on Tuesday, January 23. For more info or to register…