If you have been a reader of my blog for awhile now, you’ll know that I had my first child about six months ago. This child has certainly changed life, and forced me, in more ways than one, to take a writing break. I cannot say I am happy about this break. Every day that I “can’t” get into my office to write, I feel guilty and stressed.
However, there are some things I have realized by NOT writing.
Clarity comes when away from the keyboard.
Writing is often mindless, at least for me. I have no problem (in 95% of cases) sitting down at the keyboard and typing. When I am in the act of writing, typing quickly and furiously, my thoughts are either ahead of me, or somewhere far behind. So, in a sense, I am typing blind. I will write a scene and realize that it is not at all what I had planned. (Sometimes that isn’t a bad thing, but most of the time I simply write too much of the story and it is superfluous information, later to be excised from the story.) But when I am writing this scene, I hardly have the clarity to think that it is not necessary to the book. Even if I do, I hardly want to stop midway through and give up on the scene, for fear that it might be worth something later, or because I am enjoying it too much to stop. Instead, I allow my thoughts to run ahead or disappear somewhere in the trails of dust behind me, and I write, furiously and thoughtlessly.
It is only when I think about this scene after writing, consider the plot and direction I am wanting to go with my story, that I realize this scene may not have a place in my novel after all.
I think everyone has a place or time where they tend to get their “ah-ha” moments. For some, it’s the shower or bathtub, others, right before bed, some, while staring at the wall or daydreaming. It’s different for everyone, as everyone’s brain works in a slightly different way.
For me, those “ah-ha” moments tend to come while I am trying to fall asleep at night. Six months ago (pre-child), I would write a scene in my head and, if I really thought it great, grab my phone and type it in before I lost it completely, then roll over and go to sleep, or add to it if I came up with more. Post-child? Well, it usually doesn’t take me long enough to fall asleep in order to rewrite the next scene in my book, and if I do get to start, I find that my concentration soon ebbs into daily concerns or my list of what I must accomplish tomorrow and what I should have done today, as well as guilt over what I have not accomplished today and how I am too tired to get up and accomplish it now (especially concerning writing).
You must be deliberate about writing.
This is a career. It’s a hobby. But it’s a career, too. Why do I write? I want to share it with others, even though I may fight tooth and nail to allow someone else to read it before I deem it “ready,” I write for others as well as myself.
Why do I feel guilt when I don’t write in a day? Because I know that’s my calling. And I feel bad for having neglected it. Every day I don’t write almost feels like a day wasted.
That said, there are other priorities in my life. I cannot deny that writing is high up there, but there are three others first: God, Husband, and Child. Those three are first and foremost–or should be. If I am neglecting them to write, then I am being selfish and should reevaluate my priorities. Unless I have those three things taken care of, I should not be writing. This is done out of deliberate determination to honor the commitments in my life. Writing is one of them, but people come first. I often fail in this, I am often selfish. Having a child has already taught me a lot about how selfish I truly am.
Let me be clear, having a hobby that you enjoy is not selfish, but healthy. Yet any hobby can become unhealthy if important parts of your life are ignored in order to foster them. I choose right now to make God and my family come first. I don’t regret that, but I do regret that sometimes my time management isn’t up to par, that I don’t have the time to do everything I want and feel called to do. But the funny thing about God is that He can give you time when you need it, and especially when you put Him first. I am trying to be more deliberate in that, and more deliberate in my writing. If I don’t carve out time to write, and be dedicated to my craft, I won’t write, just as if I don’t carve out time to blog, I won’t.
Writing is personal and cathartic.
For me, writing makes me feel whole. Not to say that if I couldn’t write, I couldn’t live, but writing makes my life richer. Like reading, I get to experience another life by my writing. There are endless journeys to take when I write, and I love that about writing.
My writing, as every other author’s writing must be, contains a certain amount of me in it. They (although I don’t know who “they” are) say to “write what you know.” Many authors these day argue against that point. Write what you are interested in and that interest will show. Write what you want to spend time researching and that passion will show. Write because you are passionate about writing and it will show.
I choose to write, and by default feel guilty on those days that I haven’t written one word, because it makes me happy. Other things make me happy too, like good coffee, fluffy scones, and a good dinner with my husband or a smile from my child, but writing is a passion that those things cannot compete with. They are on another level. Writing is for me. And it is a release of my emotion and interests that others either can’t understand or aren’t interested in. Even if my writing never sees the light of day, I am okay with that because I write for me.