Confession: I am terrible at sitting down and writing. I have this sign above my desk at work. It reads: YOU SHOULD BE WRITING, with The Avengers pointing their fingers at me (Yes, there is a little graphic of Hulk right next to it. I’m not as infatuated as it seems. Really.). The language feels a little accusatory, but it’s a good reminder, when I remember to look at it. I love to write (although, I must admit, it’s usually the satisfaction of finishing rather than the process of writing that I enjoy). I want to write; Ever since I was little I have had things to say and stories to tell. But when it comes to sitting down and doing the hard work of putting pen to paper, I will dance around it and come up with a million excuses rather than write. This avoidance makes it very hard to practice discipline, feed the creative juices, become a better writer, much less use the gifts I know I’ve been given.
One of my best friends, whose pen name is K.B. Hoyle, is a full time school teacher, a mom of three boys, and she still makes time to write . She has published four books so far and is on the way to publishing her fifth. I am in awe of her. In a recent interview she gave this advice to aspiring authors: There is no such thing as Writer’s Block. If you want to write, then write. No excuses. Write when it’s easy, and more importantly, write when it’s not. This truth burned a little bit because Writer’s Block has been my excuse for years. (You can read the rest of Karin’s interview here, and if you want to learn more about her or read her books – and I think you should because they are wonderful – visit her website, On Alitheia.)
So, I have decided enough is enough. This past weekend two old friends and I met at a coffee shop to catch up. But, rather than chit chat, we ended up inspiring one another. We committed to writing 15 minutes a day for one week. I figured I should start small with a goal I knew I could accomplish. In a week we’ll see each other again and ask how the challenge went.
Discipline is Good For Me (And Probably You)
Writing every day means I can’t make excuses. Even if I’m not particularly inspired, or I’m busy with other things, it forces me to write anyway. Yesterday, I sneezed and sniffled my way through the whole day. I really wanted to curl up on the couch with some ginger tea and partake in a mini-Battlestar-Gallactica-marathon (I know, nerd alert. But seriously, jump on the bandwagon, people. The show is so good). But, I couldn’t indulge my nerdy obsession until I’d finished writing.
Writing everyday teaches me to be okay with imperfection. Perfectionism normally cripples me, it keeps me from trying things. Or, if I do try something, my perfectionism keeps me from finishing it. It’s a matter of control, and I need to let it go. When I write my daily 15 minutes, I force myself to drop my perfectionism like the bad habit it is. I can’t edit as I go along, and I must leave the grammatical flourishes behind; All my thoughts spill out continuously onto the page in front of me – clumsy phrases included.
When I write everyday, I feel more productive. It gives me something to accomplish, something to look forward to. And when I finish, I feel satisfied. So satisfied that I continue to be productive in other ways; Writing spurs me on to use my time more wisely. Perhaps I’ll also become a little wiser in general (one can hope, right?).
And best of all, the more I write, the more I have to write about! My ideas come more easily and naturally. I feel more creative and more inspired everyday. Discipline has always been hard for me to keep up, but there are some grand rewards for following through.
I think I can safely say that writing makes me a more creative person. I know there are writing roadblocks ahead, but for now, it feels pretty good. I might just keep going, even after this week is up.