This Shit Is Working

I'm not sure how this happens to me, but time seems to slip away.  I haven't written a blog post in 2 weeks.  Eeek!!!! I am doing other writing, but sheesh.  Ridiculous.  You would think not working would lend itself to developing a better schedule.  Not always true.  Because I have so much time, then I tend to waste it.  But I am tweaking it, always adjusting to find the balance.

I figured something out today.  Sometimes it takes me awhile.  I've been job searching and worried about what skills I don't have or if I can get a job that makes more than minimum wage, wishing I had a better career path, a profession.  All those nasty little thoughts that come up when you are actively making things happen.  

And then I realized something.  I am a writer.  It is the thing I live for, the thing that sometimes keeps me up at night and the thing I must do lest I go crazy.  So, everything in my life is in support of that.  Even my job.  If I end up working part-time to pay my bills, so I can write in the other part-time, then so be it.  

I have been playing small.  Pretending I'm not something I am.  I have stories burning inside me and I have to get them out.  I have things to say that people need to hear.  And no one can write the stories that I can.  As Neil Gaiman says, (loosely paraphrased), "there are better, smarter writers out there, but none that can write a Neil Gaiman story like I can".  I love that.  No one can write the stories I need to write.  So I continue on.  

A few weeks ago my brother "encouraged" me to spend 15 minutes a day working on my novel.  That's it. Not 4 hours, not even 2 hours.  Though I haven't spent 15 minutes every day, I have been doing this more often than not.  Guess what?  I now have 5,300 words towards my book I did not have two weeks ago.  My target word count is 80,000, so I still have a journey ahead of me.  But that's okay.

I most often write this story at night.  It seems to be appropriate as I want it to be scary.  I like to sit down and see what the story wants to tell me.  And, in that 15 minutes, I almost always come up with 500-700 words to keep the story going.  Are they good words, perfect words?  Nope.  Will I have to edit?  Oh yea.  But all the best writers, at least the ones I love the most, say it comes down to this: getting your ass in the chair and writing.  Every day.  Inspiration or not.  



1 Thing That is Really Helping Me Get My Writing Shit Straight.

My brother, Benj Curtis, challenged me to simply work on one of my books for 15 minutes a day.  That's it.  This was on Sunday.  

I'd been fairly stuck in my book writing process.  I had one book with a partially finished first draft, limping along.  A second book had been burning inside me but I told myself I needed to put this one off until I finished the first one.  Talk about a subtle form of self-sabotage.  This way, neither book ever gets written and I can say I am a writer who is writing nothing but morning pages.  Not that there is no value in morning pages.  They simply are not a book.  

It's this little thing called performance anxiety.  "What if it's crap?", "What if it's terrible?", "What if no one likes it?", "What if I can't actually write, but just think I can?", "Why would I write a book, let alone two or more, when there are already so many?".  And on and on it goes.  I have had to learn to tell my inner critic to shut up and go to the corner, tying her into a chair if I have to.  Her name is Edna.  I say, "Edna, go to the corner and be quiet."  And sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't.  

I get overwhelmed when I think of writing for a four-hour block of time.  Even a two-hour block of time.  But, for whatever reason, this 15-minute thing seems to work for me.  So, for the last two nights, after getting ready for bed but before reading and going to sleep, I set my phone timer for 15 minutes and write.  Guess what happened?  In two sessions, I have almost 1500 words.  

Sometimes I hate admitting this, but my brother was absolutely right.  It's easy for me to do 15-minutes.   And I have found there is something magical about writing when the world is quiet.  Plus, I'm writing kind of a creepy tale so the darkness is a good place to do it.  I write my story out long hand, using a pen or pencil, on good old-fashioned notebook paper.  I date it, number the pages (back and front) and then put it in a plain white binder when I'm done.  

I type the words into my laptop the next day, so I can keep track of word count and don't get overwhelmed by having to type the whole thing in all at once.  I do teeny, tiny edits when I am typing, but for the most part, keep it as raw as I can.  For me, there is something so important about touching pen or pencil to paper.  This is exactly how I write songs.  Chicken scratch on paper, and then I copy it to a computer or somewhere else once it's finished.  Poetry and short stories too. I write them out by hand, messy, scribbled and very rough.  And then I refine them, after I have birthed the initial idea.  

And then I came across this video by Neil Gaiman in one of my emails.  This is why I write.  Not because I am better or smarter, but because no one else can tell the stories I must tell.  Cheers!