Friday, June 22, 2012

writers write

I was on a good streak there for a while. I can't even remember when that was, but I remember getting up early (I'm a night person!) every day to write, then going to work, then coming home to write some more before dinner. I started a novel. 

Then we had to travel and we had visitors, with only a normal week or two in between, and I got thrown off my schedule. I've tried to get back into writing by starting a short story, then that got off track so I started another one before I was interrupted again. 

I don't know if my problem is too little free time or too much free time. I have a regular part-time job, but I do freelance and volunteer stuff on the side. I'm a really bad judge of time, meaning I have no idea how long it takes me to do things (bad for time management). I feel like I have a lot of free time, but somehow it disappears through an invisible sieve in the daylight hours.

I want to write, I need to work, and I want/need to exercise. I have cats and a husband who need attention and affection, I have housework and yardwork to help with, and I have friends and a community that I want to be somewhat involved in. When I was in college (undergraduate), I was the busiest I've ever been, but I was also the most productive. That's a theme I've heard from many people lately. When you get busy, you don't take free time for granted.

It's like a mantra. If I'm not writing, I'm not a writer. Rather than a heaping-on of guilt (I don't think I'm truly too busy to write), this is proper motivation. I went to a concert at Eddie's Attic last weekend and one of the bands pointed out a writer in the audience to thank her for her review of their music in Paste magazine. For some reason, that woke me up. She's actually writing something that gets out into the world and makes a difference to people. She sat right behind me and I could see she had out a notebook. She is a writer because she writes.

Being a writer is something that has to define my 24-hour-a-day existence. I want to always be ready to write--to always be listening and paying attention--to always have the story I'm working on in the back of my mind. It's like what Brother Lawrence wrote in a classic on Christian discipleship The Practice of the Presence of God. He was a medieval monk who learned to pray constantly, even outside of the designated "prayer time". Prayer was first on his mind when he woke, last before he went to bed, and throughout the day's work he intentionally returned in his mind to tranquil prayer and to focusing on Christ.

I want to be constantly mindful of viewing the world and thinking always as a writer. To turn my mind to my writing throughout the day. While I'm proofreading, while I'm tutoring, while I'm running errands, while I'm cooking or vacuuming or mowing the lawn. To observe and listen and write things down when I think of them. I'm a writer when I wake up, before I go to bed, and constantly in between. But that means I'm writing as often and as much as possible. Not being too critical of my first drafts! Constantly exercising the muscle of putting experiences into language that is uniquely filtered through me.


  1. Such a good call, Sarah! Needed to hear this. Writers write. Duh! So I should get to it.

    1. Yeah! ME too! I'm hoping this isn't so much like a guilt trip and more like a good nudge in the pants. I can be lazy sometimes. :) Glad it resonated with you!