(Today’s blog title is a quote from Janet Daily)
I post this cartoon for my students at the end of every semester. Truthfully, this is how I write most of the time, myself, and I hate that trait! I make my students do all their papers in parts; depending on the class, I have them do a combination of the following: prewriting, a proposal, a thesis statement, an annotated bibliography, a first draft (on which other class members and I give notes), then a final draft. I also teach tricks to not get so overwhelmed about their writing: writing SFD’s (see: What Makes a Good Writer?), and helping them to schedule out their writing by just planning a small part each day (see: Writing in Increments).
This is the process I really should be doing myself. And sometimes I do. But more often lately, my writing goes on my list of things to do, which is rather long all the time, until it gets relegated to emergency mode or gets dropped all together.
For a while I thought this meant I wasn’t supposed to be a writer. I’ve been rather down on myself about it, too. There are so many discouraging quotes out there about what being a “real writer” means- most of them are pretty rigid, saying that if we aren’t compelled to write all the time, we aren’t really writers. I don’t buy into that. My reality is that I’m a single mom with chronic illnesses who has a mom and daughter living in my house with chronic illnesses. I should get an award for writing anything at all, thank you very much. I realized that, at least part of the reason I don’t write consistently is that I can’t multitask when writing, and much of my life right now has to be multitasked in order to get things done.
For example, I can paint (a new hobby) and talk with my daughter about her homework, for example.
I also realized that activities like painting calm my brain down, but writing ramps it up. I am so prone to anxiety, that I spend a great deal of time avoiding getting ramped up about anything. But, I also know that once I get writing, I get pulled in in a very positive way, and then I’m happy I’m doing it (this is much like my exercise routine). So, it comes back down to scheduling. I’ve decided I need to have a writing spot where I can just get back into the routine each time I’m sitting there. If I go to my bed, where I do most of my grading and Facebooking, I can get sucked into those other activities instead of writing. And I do need to have a writing time each day. Even if I don’t make the deadline for that day, I can still shoot for it. In fact, I’ve decided that my Office Hours will be for writing when no one comes to visit me. That gives me at least five hours a day I can get something done.
What commitment can you make for yourself and your writing?