Friday, August 7, 2015

Write Or Die

No matter what stage of your writing career, one thing remains paramount to all honest-to-gosh writers. We must write or a little part of us withers and dies inside. A part of our soul is lost and trapped in the dark recesses of our minds. Yet it's difficult to realize this when we "go dark."

It all starts rather innocently, I suppose, with life pulling us this way and that. Perhaps a day slips by without having written. Then another day and another. We feel crawly and angry inside--at ourselves, at the world and everything in it. Or the writing world itself has us reeling with its ups and downs, the shoulds (you should write like this, you should promote here), and the opinions of people who truly don't matter and really have no concept of what it means to be a writer.

I fight the urge to roll my eyes, sigh, and snicker every time someone tells me they want to write but don't have the time, or they want to write because their life is so interesting/tragic/fun. Bottom line: If they wanted to write, they would be writing.

It's hard too for those of us who live in isolated areas where we lack face-to-face support from fellow writers. This is one reason why I enjoy writing conferences--it allows me to recharge and reconnect. Because no one understands a writer better than another writer. Unfortunately, I can't always go to conferences. Then I'm left to find ways to keep on and be the wind beneath my own wings.

It helps to set boundaries. (Oh, the hysterical laughter in my head with those words.) I said "it helps." I didn't say I was an expert at setting boundaries. But I am getting better at it. Having realized I was most creative and prolific in the mornings, I started positive reinforcement for myself. "I write in the mornings. I don't like to be disturbed. I am most prolific in the mornings." Within a month, I was telling others the same thing, and meaning it. "I'm sorry. That time isn't good for me. I write in the mornings." The phone calls still came. Because of a family situation, I can't ignore the calls. Because of the way our phone system is set up, I can't unplug the phone, nor would I because of the family situation. I still said the words in conversation and in my head. It took about a year, but eventually the morning phone calls dwindled.

It's important to take care of our basic needs. For writers a basic need IS writing. Don't cheat yourself. Writing is as essential to us as food, air and water.

"I write because it is who I am." Say it. Mean it. Live it. Take a stand. Don't let anything take this from you, not even yourself.

Caitlyn Willows 

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