Writing requires intention. It requires choices. It requires mindful attention to the task. Writing does NOT just happen. No matter how much we wish that somehow some force would take over our hands and bring them to the keyboard or the notebook, it’s not going to happen.
The only way writing happens is if we make it happen. (I say this to myself today as much as to anyone else.)
But sometimes, when we feel like making excuses or want to push the responsibility for this work on someone else, we tell ourselves the same myths that creatives have been whispering – or shouting – throughout the ages. Here are the 5 I use and hear most often, the ones I typically have to shout down:
1. I’m waiting for inspiration. There is no such thing as inspiration, at least not in the sense of an idea coming in from the ether and populating in such a way that we cannot but bend to it and write. In fact, that sounds much like a Hollywood alien invasion. No, inspiration – in the honest sense – comes because we train ourselves to look for it. We shape our minds and the eyes of our imagination to be aware when a story idea cross our path. That’s inspiration, not this muse nonsense.
2. I’ll do it later. Maybe we think we’ll do it when we retire, or when the kids are grown, or when inspiration hits (see #1), but the truth is that if we don’t want to make time to write now – even in the midst of work and children and lots of responsibilities – we’re probably never going to make it happen. Later, there will be trips to take or carpools to run; there will be time we want to spend with our partners in the empty house; there will be new work responsibilities. No, the only way to write is to do it now in whatever way works for you – 15 minutes before everyone wakes, during the little one’s nap, at your lunchbreak. Now. We aren’t promised later, so now.
3. Reading is writing. Well, it’s not. Reading is awesome and necessary for a writer’s life, but it’s not writing. Not even when we read books about writing. The only thing that is writing is writing – working with words on the page. That’s it. We can read all we want, but until we put words down and move them until they move us, we aren’t writing.
4. You need to write full-time to really write. Malarchy! I do – in some sense – write full time, but I spend very few hours a day actually writing. In fact, most of the full-time writers I know spend no more than a few hours writing a day. And if you’re like me – with bills to pay and such – you probably spend less than an hour. Most of the writers I know squeeze writing in around sometthing. They make the time now, in the space they abide at the moment.
5. The best writing happens in this way at this time. Seriously, if a writer is telling you that the only way to write is to do this and this with this pen at this type of desk with your feet set just this way, stop listening to them. Some of us write late at night, taking the vampiric schedule. Some of us write first thing in the morning when the rooster isn’t awake yet. Some of us write in the afternoons. Some of us write in 15 minute bursts, and some of us sit for hours of extended writing time. Some of us write on computers, some in notebooks, some dictate their words into a phone. THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO WRITE; there is only writing as you need to do it.
Writing requires discipline and effort and INTENTION. True intention. It’s not something that’s just going to happen to us, carried in like a gift on a rainbow escorted with unicorns. Nope, writing is work – holy, important work, but work nonetheless. So let’s treat it as such and do what we need to do – set goals, make schedules, buy great pens and notebooks, turn off the internet – to make it happen. We need your words. We really do.
What do you do to overcome these myths of writing? Any tips you can share?
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