Sorry for the drop in the number of posts lately – it’s been a bear to get everything straightened out after the wreck this last week, but I’m happy to say we’re on the upswing and are getting back to normal (finally!)
I thought I’d check in about something that’s been keeping me going since about 1st grade: writing. As you know, this month’s challenge is to write a new poem every day, and I’ll be honest, I’ve been really struggling because I’ve felt depleted of creativity and inspiration in the daily mundane tasks that fill up my hours outside the office, as well as unworthy of the great work I hope to write, which is why I wanted to touch base about three things that are keeping me going no matter what.
The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say but what we are unable to say. -Anaïs Nin
There are days I just don’t feel like writing, and that’s coming from someone who loves writing above everything else. There are days I pick up a pen, thumb through prompts, and spend my dedicated writing time staring at the blank page wondering why God decided I should be a writer instead of a scientist / opera singer / sculptor / something else. And that’s because it’s really difficult to stay inspired to pen the next chapbook, especially out of my grad school cocoon, which seemed brutal when I was in it, but now that I’m in the real world, I wish for it all the time. This is where the D-word comes into play, and it’s something not a lot of creative people appreciate or seek out: discipline. It’s not nearly as fun as when inspiration strikes and you write thirty pages in one sitting, but it does help you through the slumps you will inevitably find yourself in. My advice: set small, reasonable writing goals each day (a number of words, pages, or minutes) and follow through. That’s the biggest part of the battle and, over time, you’ll find yourself happily surprised at how much easier you break out of the writer’s block when it hits.
There are some pretty amazing people in my life who encourage me no matter what, and they’re who I’m writing for and why I’m still writing. Find your support and lean steadily on whoever that is for you, whether it’s your husband or mama or class or online community. Seriously, surround yourself with like-minded people who will help you get better, encourage the good work you’re doing, and provide constructive criticism when you need it most.
I’m reading two books right now that are truly keeping my writing moving in a solid direction. The first is a for-fun book by Jennie Allen called Nothing to Prove and the second is Amy Peters’ The Writer’s Daily Companion. I am so used to reading scientific texts or coding materials or news articles that a leisure book is an incredible reprieve, and honestly, Jennie Allen’s book has been exactly what I needed since I first picked it up. It’s about doing your best and understanding you’re not enough–and that’s okay. It’s seriously amazing soul-food that keeps the weight of the pressure I feel to be perfect off my writing. The second books is a lovely little book that informs, inspires, encourages, and offers prompts for your best and worst writing days and any amount of time you have to contribute to your work. It’s a breath of fresh air as prompt books go, and because it’s not a daily email, I don’t fall down the internet rabbit hole and start shopping when I should be writing. The point of all this is to say this: whatever inspires you, moves you forward, helps you achieve your writing goals, pursue that fearlessly and keep yourself inspired to do your best work. You’ll be surprised how far taking this simple thought to heart will take you in your work.
I have a recipe and a downloadable coming up for you soon – stay tuned!