*To commemorate my jump back into the blogging world, I'll send one reader who retweets the link or comments on my blog a copy of Wonderbook, a super cool illustrated guide to fiction writing!
It's been far too long since my last blog post, and even longer since I sat down and really thought about being a writer. I've been blessed with a cavalcade of editing jobs and tutoring gigs, but with a new year and subtle signs of spring emerging, it's time to dig my heels back into my own writing. So I charge over to Staples, purchase extensive writing supplies, settle into my favorite writing spot, and get ready to work...except...
There are other things I should be doing, right? I mean there are other things I have to be doing. I'm a teacher, and the stack of grading is literally doubling like Gremlins every second I sit at the table. My school bag practically vibrates with work that demands my attention. But it's the weekend, so I hide the bag in the closet. Ha!
But what about the laundry? With a teenager and toddler, it's a daily competition to see who can create more dirty (or at least wrinkled) clothing. I remember the days when I had to hound my son to change his outfits every few days, and now both he and my daughter execute hourly fashion shows with socks and underwear strewn on the bathroom floor. I pitch the laundry into the basement hamper and tell myself if I can't see it, it doesn't exist.
And then the kids start dancing. Or singing, or climbing all over me because they are creative bugs who want attention. I am a single mom carrying an enormous complex that I should do the work of two parents and give them twice the love, twice the activities, and twice the everything. But today is a writing day! I whisper to my son, 'If you play with your sister for just an hour, we can get FIFA 15 this afternoon.' They tumble off together to play dragons and princesses. Score!
I could ramble on chronicling all the other things I should be doing right now - the gym, volunteering, SLEEP, pet walking, grocery shopping. Everything seems more important than writing , especially when you aren't deriving your primary income from the task.
Enter writer's guilt.
It is a cloud that clings to each word, slowing down your pen as if you're writing through molasses, and once it's occupied mental space, it is nearly impossible to vacate. Nearly. Here are a few tricks and tips that help me sweep writer's guilt under the rug with the rest of the dust bunnies when I am determined to write.
1) SET A TIMER. Tell yourself you will not leisurely daydream. You will give over twenty minutes, half an hour, an hour of your day to writing, and you will not waste one second of it worrying. You've scheduled it as efficiently as a business meeting or a play date.
2) TO-DO LISTS. Officially put WRITING in big bold letters on your to-do list. (If your manuscript has a name, use that instead.) Writing is every bit as important as taking the car to the mechanic or Snowball to the groomer. Once it's written down, it becomes real.
3) MULTI-TASK. This is touchy for someone who has trouble blocking out distractions, but if you can hack it, scour your day for moments that are often given over to grumping about why there is no time to write. When my daughter is in ballet practice, when I'm sitting monitoring my son's homework time, or when I am waiting for oatmeal to bubble, I keep my notepad close.
4) BUSINESS CARDS. Print a business card. If you don't want to invest in commercially printed ones, use the nifty Avery templates and business card paper found at any office supply store. Print one, or twenty. Now place it prominently in your wallet. You have officially become a writer. Somewhere along the line our society defined a profession solely as something furnishing money to survive, when in reality, survival isn't only monetary. It's our happiness too, and for many of us, a day without writing isn't a happy day.
5) GAGGLES. Write in tandem. Hop on Twitter and participate in or host a writing sprint. Join a critique group where you not only workshop each others' pieces but also write together. There is something respectable about a gaggle of writers. (Or whatever the appropriate word is for a group of writers when they congregate.)
The bottom line is if you're reading this, you want to be a writer. And it is never, ever a waste pursuing a dream. Whatever method you have to your madness, enjoy your time writing, and leave the guilt at the bottom of the dirty laundry hamper where it belongs.
Writing has always been an escape, a passion, and a friend. I look for other writers who feel the same.