practice

The Process of Becoming a Writer, Step 2

I spend a lot of time researching but not for a novel I want to write. Nope, I spend much time reading about the career called writing. I talked about this in my very first post. As time has gone on I find that what I seek information on isn't necessarily about how to get published but rather the actual practice of writing. 

I'm six months into making a conscious effort to become a writer. I have found that I really struggle to actually get any writing done. This produces a great deal of panic or guilt, depending on the day. I complain to very few people about this because A. I haven't shared with very many people that I'm trying to make a career change and B. to those that I have, I'm embarrassed. Because, really, how hard is it to sit down and type? One person in particular, who has had the 'privilege' of hearing me complain, has suggested that I look at my behaviors. When he first said this I immediately balked. My lack of writing had nothing to do with my behaviors. It has everything to do with the demands on my time and I rattled off the names of my three kids, my husband and 'the house.' I may have even thrown the dog's name in there. But his observation stayed with me.

I started to read more blogs and articles that talked about writing practices, the best/worst writing advice, how they made the transition from X career to writing, how they juggle competing demands. I felt very relieved to see that many have the same struggles and fears that I do. But what really got me to think about looking at my behaviors was how dedicated writers made the time to write. That's what sets them apart from me and when the proverbial light bulb went off over my head. It IS my behaviors. It is me not taking the 10 minutes here, sneaking 20 minutes there. It is me putting the 'if I can't have at least an hour of solid writing time I'm not going to do it' wall. It's allowing what I call "Writer's ADHD" rule when I do sit down to write: re-reading what I've written, re-writing, looking things up on the fly, checking in on the author/writing websites I have bookmarked, starting a new novel for the latest idea I had that morning in the shower. 

So this week is Spring Break for my kids. We made plans back in the middle of frigid February to get the heck out of NY for this week. We rented a house right on the ocean…it's beautiful and very restful (and warm!!). I brought my lap top and told myself that I was going to write 1,000 words a day while we were here. Of all the story ideas I have started, there is one in particular that is jumping up and down, arms waving, saying "Pick me!" And I've done it. It helps (a lot) that I don't have all the responsibilities I do if I was home. But when my husband offers to take the youngest to the beach I let him. When said child is crying I don't run to intercede. I let my husband or his sisters handle it. My daughters entertain themselves. Dinners are quick and easy. I am looking at websites as I drink coffee in the morning. I am not trying to write the story perfectly the first time around. I'm just letting it out as it comes to me.

I want to be able to say that I'm a dedicated writer. I recognize it is easy to start these new behaviors in this less demanding environment. The trick will be if I can practice them when I get back to the (hopefully warmer) real world.