YOUR CONSTANT WRITING
Sometimes it seems like everyone we meet is a writer, or at least an aspiring one. But we are relatively rare. In fact, we’re a special breed. “You are an unusual human being,” writing authority Leonard Bishop reminds us in Dare to Be a Great Writer. “You are able to turn the abstract—that which does not exist—into the readable.”
With this startling ability, we’ve also been given the gift of a fierce desire to write, almost above all else. If you feel at the moment, though, that your yearning outweighs your time and talent, don’t despair. When we have such a strong desire, we can count on the universal principle: we also have the capabilities to actualize that desire. You wouldn't long to follow your dream if you didn't have the inner resources to fulfill it.
Fulfillment, as with any worthwhile endeavor, isn’t easily accomplished. All of us, even the most prolific and rewarded, must practice and hone our writing skills with the time, attention, and dedication necessary. Recognize and acknowledge that you are among the gifted. And among the few who really know what they want to do with their lives and what their true purpose is. Give your writing its due.
Since You Know It, Do It
But sometimes we lag. We let everything else get in the way of our writing (how easily the excuses come). Whether your medium is pen, pencil, deluxe Crayolas, fingerpaints, oatmeal, or more likely computer, I encourage you to embrace the concept of constant writing. Your allotted quota (words, lines, sections, minutes, cookies consumed) is up to you.
Here’s how novelist (The Carolina Slade Mystery Series) and publisher/editor of Funds for Writers describes her own constancy (in Funds for Writers, January 4, 2013). She managed to write when simultaneously raising three kids, holding down a demanding full-time job, and founding Funds for Writers:
Fifteen minutes per day. When I decided to take writing seriously, I demanded fifteen minutes per day. Family could not interrupt. I could not sleep. The chores could go undone, but I did my 15 minutes.
The fifteen minutes gradually grew to more, but the real point, Clark points out, is creation, compulsion, and maintenance of the habit:
When writing becomes your habit, you don't put it off until other things
are done. You put off the other things. . . .15 minutes per day, without
exception. Like jogging, the routine becomes a need once it's ingrained, and when the need is established it has to be fed.
The Desire Doesn’t Disappear
A longtime inconstant writer myself, I repeatedly struggled with not writing for interminable, agonizing, self-blaming periods. I experienced the terrible frustration and fear of stopping short for no apparent reason. I flung around the house in an inexplicable rage and snapped uncontrollably at those most significant and conveniently near.
Yet, despite those difficult dry periods, I’ve always come back. The writing pull cannot be ignored or denied. We may try to disregard or discount it; it always resurfaces. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron says that if you have the desire to write a novel at 20 you’ll still have it at 80.
The yearning doesn’t disappear, and we only hurt ourselves by trying to overlook, bury, or sidestep it. I’ve certainly tried—with marathon TV sessions, back-to back movies at the multiplex, double-extra-cheese pizza and brownie binges, hilarious flings with friends, 36-hour shopping expeditions, feverish workouts, and righteously relentless housecleaning.
Like me, you may have tried these strategies, or your personal equivalent. You may have also found that such tactics do not and cannot extinguish your writing drive.
If you’re not writing and instead doing any of the above, ask yourself, “What do I really like about writing?” Your answers may remind or surprise you and make it easier to climb back into the computer. To prompt you, here are some answers of other writers.
« A friend who writes with a box of rainbow-colored Flairs, confessed, “I love watching the billowy purple and green lines form on the page.”
« A colleague in a writer’s group admitted, “I am lord. All characters are at my mercy and must do my bidding.”
« A thirty-year veteran of writing and publishing reflected, “Writing never fails to fill me. You can make all those distinctions between writing and life. Writing doesn’t negate life. It is life.”
« Prolific, award-winning children’s book author Jane Yolen declared in her Take Joy: A Writer’s Guide to Loving the Craft that she writes “because it is a joy and a pleasure and something I must do. Not because a teacher has shown me flakes falling outside and insisted I write about it. I am my own teacher and my own window and my own falling flakes.”
The next time you’re tempted to avoid it, stop and ask yourself this question. Put down what comes to you. If you’re having trouble starting or restarting, try Hope Clark’s fifteen-minute rule and answer the question. Write out your thoughts and feelings.
Protect Your Writing
Whether you discovered your writing fervor recently or decades ago, you’ve experienced it stirring and sprouting. Feed it, whatever else is going on in your life. Nurture, protect it, and cherish its growth, like a miraculous child.
Like a child, your writing needs constant reassurance and fortifying. Like a child, if it’s going to grow into something worthwhile it needs a constant firm hand and discipline. Like a child, it needs your constant forgiveness and patience and faith.
Whatever methods you choose or develop to coax yourself to write, be constant, consistent, steady, and unswerving. Recognize you’re a member of a special breed. Accept the privilege and your calling and practice your constant writing.
Author, editor, ghostwriter, writing coach, and spiritual counselor, Noelle puts in her fifteen minutes with constancy. She can attest that the fifteen stretches to thirty minutes and more, resulting in over 300 fiction and nonfiction pieces in print and online venues. With a Ph.D. from Columbia University, for over 28 years Noelle has guided doctoral candidates to completion of their dissertations. Based on this work, her latest project-in-progress is a practical-psychological-spiritual handbook, Grad U: Complete Your Dissertation—Finally—and Ease the Trip for Yourself and Everyone Who Has to Live With You. In her current book, Trust Your Life: Forgive Yourself and Go After Your Dreams (Unity Books), Noelle draws examples from her practice and other aspects of life to help writers and others release regrets, relabel their past, and reach their lifelong yearnings. Visit Noelle at http://www.trustyourlifenow.com/