I haven’t linked to writerly advice before in the short history of this blog but this link arrived in my inbox today via Vine Leaves Literary Journal’s e-newsletter and it wants sharing.
I usually let articles in the find-time-to-(x-variable) genre scroll past because I’ve read too many offering suggestions such as “get your kids to help with the housework.” For those of us lacking in offspring, the suggestion is useless -- and implies that it’s someone else’s fault we're not doing whatever it is we dream of doing.
Although I am busy with the newspaper, I’ve found that even when I’m not working on something for the paper, my focus on my own writing isn’t dedicated or consistent.
I’ve had a little extra time this week, so I have jotted a few research notes as well as ideas for news stories and blogposts, but I've also spent too much time on the book of faces, even though I've spent less there than usual.
The Vine Leaves blogpost, however, reveals the simplest of solutions to the problem of finding time to write: acting on willingness and creating consistency, to which I would add: refusing to blame anyone -- other than the person whose fingers should be tapping at the keyboard -- for the lack of words being written.
It’s simple advice that bears repeating. Often.
How did I finally get myself into gear? A big part of my push forward came from the newspaper. When I had to write something - anything - just to get started, I learned how to get over the fear of writing drivel.
I'd tried just throwing pixels on the screen before, without letting my inner editor stop me, during prior years' NaNos but I wasn't able to carry that momentum for more than 30 days until I participated in Jane Barry's Creativity Bootcamp last year. She ran it in October, which made it a sort of prelude to NaNo. I barely tried to do NaNo last year because I took on more newspaper work that month but, between the newspaper and following what was happening in bootcamp, I was at least thinking creatively each day.
I've continued to stick around the bootcamp forum ever since, sometimes doing more, sometimes less, but what has changed for me over the past four months is this: I created the habit of creativity. And that has made all the difference.
Postscript: I like Vine Leaves. I submitted some prose to them in February 2013. The piece needed quite a lot more work but at the time I was being brave by sending it at all. Yet, having no doubt figured out submitting work was a new venture for me, instead of crushing me, the editor pointed out two aspects they liked about the piece before telling me it wasn't a good fit. I was disappointed and encouraged at the same time. Now that it's been a few more years and I've done a lot more writing, I might submit again. Interested? Check them out here.