My mom used to always say, “Eat right, sleep right and exercise.” I know I mentioned this in another post, but writing must also be included in that list of essentials for mental and physical health. It’s interesting how we can convince ourselves that the dishes or the litter box or the bills should come before our writing. That I’ll write “after I balance my checkbook, take the dog out…” and so on. First, let me tell you that balancing your check book (especially if you’re me, math-challenged and living on a low budget) is the biggest writing buzz kill ever. It’s the farthest thing from creative, unless of course kiting checks counts as a craft.
But seriously, I also don’t believe in “writer’s block.” Sure, you might be struggling with a plot line, a troubling character or a time sequence, but that does not mean the writing ceases. Write THROUGH it. If you arrive at the page every day (or as often as you can) the writing will happen. Norman Mailer once said something to the order of “When you tell your brain you’re going to write in the morning, get up and meet the page. The writing will come. By making that appointment, your brain is already getting ready for it. All you have to is meet it there.”
I have found this to be true. Likewise, I have felt the residual guilt of hitting the snooze button. It follows me through my workday. Sometimes I feel like I broke a valued object or a promise to a friend. The act of NON-WRITING is frustrating. It’s distracting, uncomfortable and sometimes upsetting. But when you do write, and write often, you know the elation. I felt that this morning as I was editing my memoir.
I was on a roll this week, truly having faith in my story. Now that I’ve given it daily and consistent attention, I’m more than half way through what I call the “final” edit.
Sure, it needs more eyes, more edits, but by “final” edit, I mean it’s ready to leave the nest and find its homeland (hopefully print, in some form, preferably selling enough to relinquish my insane student loan deficit.) But I’ve discovered, this last week, that writing and working on this project has become as necessary as eating or sleeping or showering. I don’t feel good if I don’t do it, and, though it has become a necessity in ways, I look forward to it and feel great once I do it.
Some keys to stay motivated: never stop when you’re stuck. Stop when you’re on a roll so you’ll stay enthused about it. Also, make notes for next time so you can pick right back up. For example: edit chapter twenty, then go back to the doctor scene in Richmond, etc.
If you don’t have a writers’ group, go form one. It helps to have a routine meeting with like-minded writers to keep you honest, give you feedback and keep you motivated. You’re writing for yourself, of course, but these meetings will help you stay focused. You don’t want to let your writer friends down, now do you? True. But it feels worse to hit snooze, roll over, let another day pass where your ideas bunch up like a bad pair of underwear…right?
Be well and keep writing!