I’ll bet you thought I was going to write something about watching the RNC Convention tonight. Because who’d bypass the chance to shout about those toxic twins of the GOP, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, rockin’ Cleveland this eve. Well, sage observer you’re wrong wrong wrong. No idling in deep thought or in front of a television tonight for me. I have bigger fish to fry!
As a writer, you’ve probably had people say to you, “I’d write a book if I only had the time!’ or “Where do you get the time to write?” I’ve heard those gems to the point of distraction, and I usually answer, “When you’re a writer you find the time.” I know I’ve gone over this before, but here it is again–when approaching a project, clear your schedule and set up an immovable block of writing time, make sure your friends and family are aware of that block, and then enforce your boundaries. This is a common sense approach, and most of the time, it works. But what if real life does intrude to the point you find yourself NOT writing for an extended period of time? And when it does, how does that make you feel?
The reason I’m mentioning it is that’s exactly where I’ve found myself. As an academic, especially with the start of school looming, I’ve had a million minutiae to attend to, finalizing syllabi, finishing curriculum, coordinating crazy professor attire, etc., damn near sending me skittering off the cliff of sanity. This can happen to any writer when the noose of family, job or real world responsibilities begin to encroach on your fantasy time (let’s face it; we’d rather live in that world than “reality”. When it does, the worst of the worst could happen–you start not feeling like a writer. You’ve abandoned your routine and as the plot and pages start to fade, an ennui sets in that makes you so doubt yourself, you feel that tenuous identity slip away.
Here’s another thing I’ve said more than a few times: writers write. But if you’re not doing it, how can you possibly call yourself one anymore? If that very statement gives you the shakes, than congratulate yourself: you’re taking yourself–and your craft–more seriously than you realize. And if you are, then to get back into writing like a writer, start thinking like one and prioritize.
Above all, ask yourself how important writing is to your health and well-being. If you feel about it the way I do, you’re not quite right when you don’t write, so you’ll find a way to get it back into your routine. The craziness can’t last forever, so start planning for when things return to normal, and if that means perhaps taking those extra two or three weeks to finish what been occupying your time, then do it or you’ll never be able to concentrate. If you’re able, fix a deadline to restart, but if you find yourself open-ended, then again–ask yourself how important writing is in your life. If you can’t picture life without it, then you must make time for it–during lunch, after the kids are in bed, the first thing in the morning, between episodes of Mr. Robot–but do find some time for it somewhere. There is one intractable rule here: writers write. We are addicts in our own inimitable way, but it’s an addiction, when it’s done well, the world–and your own world–is so much better for.
Now that I have that out of the way–onto the DNC! (Hoo boy, I’m such a liar.)