Doing the Actual – A blogger returns from self-imposed exile

I’ve been away – maybe you noticed, maybe not. I haven’t gone far, I’ve just been doing the actual.

What I mean is, with a lot of things going on I decided in the midst of all of my grand ideas to spend all of my writing time working on actual writing – which is, for me, creative. The stuff I want to be most successful at. This has taken the form of ongoing revisions of my novel. I didn’t abandon writing, is my point. In fact, I also wrote almost an entire newsletter for work, which I had to, and thus, well, I neglected this blog for a bit.

For all of the chatter about finding time to write – no, about making time to write – it’s a bit of a different thing to actually be able to do it. As some of you know I had the luxury of not having a day-job for two years, and then I found a great new job and have been working again for almost three months. Before I went back to work I was really really adamant that everyone could find even fifteen minutes a day for writing if the soul was willing.

Now I know it’s true.

Not that I never wrote when I was employed before. I’ve written quite a bit while gainfully employed. When I wasn’t working I got to write all the time instead of a little each day. I’m happy to say, at this juncture in my writing life, I am still writing, er, call it “regularly,” despite the demands of job and social and all of the things insistent on talking up my time. But instead of blogging and sending email, and writing ad hoc grants, and the myriad other writing projects I had at the same time, I now find myself narrowing focus, committing to one writing project at a time. All I have time for is my best project.

At our most confident we writers feel invincible, capable of mastering all forms and of generating copious work, volumes of writing for the edification of the masses. We forget we are human, susceptible to distraction, fatigue, and the laws of Murphy (damn the Irish!).

In some ways, though, having time enough only to work on one project feels like the most sincere form of the writing life there is. I have no time, therefore I write, and I write only this one thing because without it there would be no writing at all, and no writer, and no dream. Yet, I persevere.

So if you are feeling downtrodden, underachieving, and on the brink of failure because you’ve decided that fifteen minutes per day on just one project is not what being a writer means, I assure you that if you return to just that much effort you are still a writer.

Besides, the truth is that there are more than fifteen minutes available to us if we want them. Half an hour is twice the time and twice the productivity! An hour – four times! There were writers in history who wrote while standing among friends and family in the parlor, women who had to hide their work under the cushion of a chair for fear that someone would find out that they were writing at all.

No, if we have the time then all we must do is use it, and write from the gut, and just keep going. As novices we are out to sea with only our wits to keep us from the sharks, the elements, and the threat of drowning. But if we keep swimming, a little bit at a time, and never give up, we will reach the shore.

This belief is something every one of us must keep inside. No one else can give it to us and they cannot take it away. Reserve your golden fifteen, imagine them on the clock in shining gold numbers, imagine the sheen spreading to thirty minutes, an hour. This is a sacred time to do sacred work, and once you’re in it, steeped in the depths of your creativity, you will find the energy again, and the muse. All you have to do is try.

Keep on task and soon the miles will pass behind you. Your destination is just ahead.


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