I’ve been lazy.
Isn’t that what we’re supposed to say after the new year? Aren’t we supposed to flail ourselves for our failings and weaknesses, promise to be better, and then within a fortnight (if you’re lucky) fall, fall again into a pattern of loathsome idleness?
Yes, I’ve been lazy.
In the past month, I’ve fallen away from the practice of writing every day. This was not a forced break, which I have done in the past, but a true do-nothingness that has settled into the part of my morning that I once filled with writing.
The falling away could turn ugly if I do not approach it carefully. If I am hasty and try to force myself upon the wheel, I’ll slip right off again and smash my chin against the floor.
Some of you watching might say, “but you’ve written the draft of a new story and you’ve written several posts.” This is not the practice of writing. The practice of writing is the daily work of laying new words side by side, teaching your hands where to be on the keyboard without thinking about it. The practice of writing leads to sentences and paragraphs written almost on their own. The practice of writing helps separate you from yourself so that you can get out of the damn way and let the story be told.
Alright, this is probably more dramatic than it needs to be, but I’m a writer and what are writers if they are not dramatic? Well, I think they’re lawyers, but that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that I haven’t been writing this past month and while there are a lot of reasons why it’s okay, there is no reason that justifies another 30 days of waiting for my future.
Perhaps this is the thing that drives people to make resolutions that last. They don’t look at the things they ought to be doing and despair. They look towards the future they want and they get good an angry about not being there already when they know that with focused effort they’d be there.
And now I gripe.
The practice of writing abhors griping. Griping leads to long-winded journal entries that no one will ever read, or will gouge their eyes out if they are forced to to do in some distant future. Have you read the Collected Letters of So and So? If you have, you’ll know what I mean. Gaaa!
No, the practice of writing is equal parts insanity and imagination kept in balance by the discipline of a marathon runner. Feast and famine is the fast track to cliche and rage.
How to Write Every Day
There is a simple formula for writing every day. It goes like this:
- Put ass (A) in chair (B).
- Do not separate A and B for at least 60 minutes. 90 is better. I try for at least 120 if not more.
There are any number of things that can help you in the goal of keeping A and B attached. Every writer has their own tricks, and maybe some of you will share yours in the comments. Here are mine…
- Imagine doing what you are doing for the rest of your life. – I want to write stories for a living. Each day I am doing something else is a day I am not writing stories for a living. I say this while also mentioning I have a great job that I love, but that doesn’t matter. Having a great job does not mean I don’t want to be a writer. It means I worked damned hard to get where I am and I ought to do the same when I’m writing.
- Stop worrying about things other than writing. – This includes any of the following: research; schmoozing agents and editors on twitter, facebook, their blogs, staking out their homes; reading (yes, reading is essential but it is not writing); your pen, no a better pen will not help you write better that is a lie told you by your writer’s imagination.
- Your mother/father/spouse/whatever will always be disappointed you became a writer. – This may not be true in each and every case, but if you look through your greeting cards you’ll probably find at least one person who will tsk-tsk your desire to be a writer. Get over it. This is your life not theirs.
- Enjoy what you are doing. Enjoy it for the selfish pleasure alone and nothing else. – After you get through all the other crap, remind yourself that you are writing because you like to write. You are not writing to prove anything (even if you are). You are writing because you like to do it even if it is a guilty pleasure and time you could spend on the treadmill, donating your life to charity, or working on your carbon footprint. Screw that. You’re writing because you love it. You love the way it makes you feel when you’ve written something especially good. You can’t wait to find out what happens next, even if you know that you’ll probably cut it when you edit anyway. You write because you love it for the deep, selfish waste of time that gives you enormous pleasure.
I’ve been lazy, so what? I’m working now and I love it. What are you doing? A and B are in need of a long and lasting connection. Get to it.