After a fairly long hiatus from writing due to selling the house, I've been trying to get back into a regular writing schedule. SO. HARD. Why is it so hard??? The next couple of paragraphs are freewrites I've done during the last week - meditations, if you will - on what I notice myself doing/thinking that contributes to the not-writing.
This first one is about blocking myself by judging before I even get it out:
I really want to freewrite but I notice that my brain starts whispering things to write down and I reject them. "No, too silly," or "No, we've already written something like that before," or "No, I don't see where that's going." Of course that defeats the whole purpose of freewriting, doesn't it, because it's supposed to be whatever, without judgment, don't need punctuation or even coherent sentences. So why not just write the stuff? Because part of me feels like it's a waste of time. But that's dangerous. I think about my friend sitting there with her blog post and I wonder if she's judging before it can come out or after or if she keeps re-saying the same things because she's not yet sure what she wants to say or how to say it. What goes on there?And then there's that whole thing about getting distracted by anything and everything and not making writing a priority, like, ever.
One of the things I catch myself doing is not sitting down to write if I don't already have something in my head I want to get down. But of course this is silly. It makes sense I don't always know what I want to say. And sometimes I'll freewrite and nothing much will come out of it and that's okay. The point, of course, is not to already know what I want to say but instead to make space for things to come. Things that don't involve everything else I need to do today, etc. For example, right now I could be cleaning up the kitchen or hauling all my stuff in from the car, but a) there will be time for those things later - I've built it into my schedule - and b) writing is important; even when I don't feel happy with the results of my efforts, it's important to do it, to have done it, to make space for it. 'Cause otherwise I could spend the rest of my life thinking of things I could/should do and doing them and never writing. There has to be a point in the day when I decide that writing is my #1 priority, more important than email, texting, cleaning, calling my mother, etc. Not that those things aren't important - they are - but there has to be a moment when I decide that those things can wait. I'll do them later, and right now the only thing that matters is writing. Unless the house is burning down around me or someone has stuck a gun/knife/chainsaw in my face, there is nothing that can keep me from writing. Thus I overcome Hurdle #1.
|Photo by Rick Campbell|
On that note, your challenge today is to make writing a priority for at least 15 minutes. No checking your email/messages/Twitter. No answering the phone or the doorbell. Ignore the dog/cat/iguana. Just 15 minutes. You can do this. And when you start writing, write past the judgment. You may not be able to keep yourself from thinking, "That's dumb," but you can write it down anyway. Give the middle finger to your inner critic. Spite him/her.
For those of you whom it helps to have something specific to hook into, here's a prompt.
Prompt: Everywhere I go, I see someone who looks exactly like you.
Tip: If it feels daunting to sustain a single freewrite for 15 minutes, try a looping freewrite. Write for 5 minutes on the prompt (or whatever you want), then choose one sentence or phrase from that first freewrite and make it your new prompt. Write for 5 minutes from that. Then do it one more time: Choose a sentence or phrase from your second freewrite and make it your new prompt for the last 5-minute sprint.