Well, I’m back. It’s been a while, mostly because I’ve been slacking on the upkeep of my blogs (and a number of other things as well). But this is the start of a (hopefully) shiny, new, and fantastically productive schedule of writing. And to start it off, I am introducing a new series of blog posts for this site which will basically involve me talking about whatever writing/life topic I currently feel like discussing. So, yay for that.
Before too long, I also plan to return to the Charybdis 7 web series that I have awkwardly left hanging up to this point. I will also be going back to the rough drafts that are floating around on this blog and tidying things up – spring cleaning and all that. All together, it feels to me like a rather tall order. However, the sun is bright, the weather is warming, and every day is a new day, so why not make it happen?
So – procrastination. It’s what’s kept me away from this site for so long. I’m sure many of you can relate because, honestly, what’s easier than not doing something? It’s a simple process: Step 1, don’t do the thing. And that’s it. And that’s what I’m trying to avoid lately.
I recently read Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art. Overall, I had mixed feelings about the book, but one thing it does well is argue against procrastination. The book breaks down so many of the different ways we can not get things done – we let other people hold us back from what we want to accomplish, we hold ourselves back, we do things that quickly lead to results instead of putting in the time required for a larger project.
One of the points I most appreciated was the observation that many of the things which distract us are not even inherently bad or useless. Bills do have to be paid, friends and family shouldn’t be ignored, showing up at your job is generally considered a good thing to do, and all of us do need to take time off once in a while. So, the remaining question is, with so many legitimate demands on our time, how do we make sure to do the things we really need to do?
Well, if you’re hoping I have the answer, sorry to disappoint. But there are a lot of general answers out there: prioritize, make sacrifices where necessary, make a plan and stick to it.
This is the part I’m trying to navigate right now. I work a lot, and that makes it challenging to establish a writing schedule. Furthermore, when I’m not working, I tend to be kind of like “woe is me, I doth need rest for I groweth faint.” (Not really, but kind of like that). Basically, after a long day, I’m sure I’m not the only one who just wants to unplug. But what about writing?
Just last night, I ran into a bunch of people from Stonecoast (the MFA program I attend) at a book reading. Over the course of those conversations, I was reminded of what I really want to do. I want to write; I want to be around other writers; I want to do something with all these crazy ideas bumping around in my head. Because, really, I think what I need is community. Every month or so, I get to hang out with some writers in my area, and those meetings help keep me focused on what I need to do. Being in Stonecoast also helps, partly because deadlines keep me writing, but mostly because I am inspired by people who are pursuing the same goals as I am. It also helps to simply stay in touch with people who cheer for me, people I can cheer for, people who understand and appreciate what being a writer is all about.
So, beyond trying to cobble together some sort of writing schedule, I want to keep more in touch with other writers, other artists. To be honest, I’m absolutely terrible at keeping in touch with people that I don’t see regularly. It’s something I want to fix. I’m also, slowly, beginning to branch out into other artistic and writing communities in my area.
The goal is to surround myself more with the things I want to pursue and less with the things that distract me. It sounds simple enough, but I think we all know that it can be a challenge to actually put into practice.
But that’s what we sign up for. Artists, writers, actors, musicians – we devote hours, often in isolation, to a craft that continues to call to us. We sacrifice and study and work and celebrate because we have something that we want to share. Simply, we love what we do. For writers, we get excited over a well-crafted sentence and wonder why other people don’t seem to care. We make up imaginary characters and then find we’ve gotten attached to people that have never actually existed. We hear a story in an off-hand remark and refuse to stop dreaming no matter what is going on around us.
And this is how it should be. The world needs the dreamers and the artists to inspire, to empathize, and to make sense of all the chaos that makes up daily life.
I lose sight of that a lot.
But the passion remains, sometimes overlooked but always waiting to reemerge and take action. That’s why I treasure knowing my fellow writers so much – they help me stay focused, help me keep moving forward when I might rather do something easier.
So let’s make plans to follow our dreams. Let’s support each other and stay excited for what we’re working on. Let’s fight through distractions and criticism and do something we can be proud of.
And I continue to believe that this isn’t idealism, it’s not fancy rhetoric, it’s the stuff that changes the world. Personally, I know it won’t be perfect. Much of the time, it won’t even be pretty. But let’s do it. Let’s try to change the world, one story at a time.