This may come as a surprise, but I love words and stringing them together in coherent ways to convey an idea, thought, or feeling. Setting a scene is my jam, and hearing how others interpret my strings of words makes me ridiculously happy.
It is something about the way words come together for me and what they represent to someone else that is incredible to me. That reading the exact same words mean can something so vastly different to two people is fascinating.
The hard part? Sitting down and DOING IT. I have a million ideas in my head, and the second I sit down to put type they are gone. I used to blame social media and the internet, but I am sure Ernest Hemingway would tell you that there is nothing more distracting to a writer than everything else on the planet when there is writing to be done. Sometimes (read: ALL the time), every single sentence is punctuated by a visit to Facebook to see what my friends are eating/selling/playing/doing, or a pop in to Twitter to see all the ads that seem to be the only thing on my timeline these days.
I’ve come up with a few things that trick my brain into just doing it, because once I get started it’s not that hard to keep going, especially if I can see the end in—sorry, I just popped over to TMZ. Did you know that Beyonce is being sued?
Pick a time/spot to stop.
Set a time or a spot in your writing (after a chapter, after a first post draft) to stop, and stick to it. You’re tricking your brain into writing by letting it know that the end of all its pain is in sight. It’s like what I used to tell my stepson about brussel sprouts: “I know you don’t like it, so eat it first then you can enjoy the rest!” Get the writing out of the way so you can go out and live again.
I know. It’s like chopping off your arm. But it’s not indefinite, so it’s like you’re just losing your arm for the time you allotted yourself to write (see above). And yes, there’s an app for that: it’s called Freedom — it blocks access to certain sites and/or apps for a certain period of time. I don’t use it because I—oooh, Sarah just posted an event, I better go send my RSVP and chat with everyone in sight while I’m there! Maybe I do need it….
I have a beautiful, bistro-style dining room table that is awesome for entertaining dinner guests. Spending a few hours writing at it? Not a chance. I have taken to bring my lapdesk and my Mac into my bedroom and closing the door. I prop my pillows up against my headboard, and put my cocktail on my nightstand. It works for me, and my family knows that it’s me time. It doesn’t matter where you’re comfy, as long as you are.
Find a muse-ical backdrop.
Lately, The Tragically Hip have given me a lot of time and motivation to write. I put them on and get lost in the story’s the songs tell, and it gets my creative juices flowing.* Find what works for you–I have a friend who insists on kids music, so pretty much whatever you pick will be better than that?
* A sign hanging on the wall in the home of the late Hunter S. Thompson (one of my earliest inspirations): “No music + Bad TV = Bad mood & no pages.”
Get #AllTheThings out of the way first.
I don’t know about you, but I find it impossible to relax and get into the groove if I know there are ten chores I have to do after I stop writing. I tend to do most of my writing at night, so for me having everything (or as much as I can do) done before I start means that I can end when I get tired, or start when my daughter has gone to bed finally after eleventy-billion stories/drinks of water/answers to life’s big questions like where does poop go.
This writing life is not easy, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it, either. When we thwart the self-sabotage the words will win.
P.S. All my writer friends better come out of the woodwork with this post whenever I am on Facebook talking about not being able to write.