i’ve been thinking about my 9 year old self, my self 50 years ago.
that girl was a shy, bookish homebody who loved to write. she wrote stories and had no inner critic, no naysayer laughing about her simple characters and plots. story after story, written in pencil on looseleaf paper without a care in the world. where did that free spirit go?
now i think about writing all the time and i think about tomorrow, when i’ll have time to write, when i’ll sit down in the room i have turned in to my study, at my newly-painted desk, with my dog snoring in the patch of sun on the floor in front of the windows. tomorrow. i always plan to write tomorrow. the trouble with that, of course, is that there’s (hopefully) always tomorrow so i can put off writing for a very long time.
why don’t i write more? one reason is that i don’t feel like i have much to write about. i don’t live an exciting or adventurous life (that ended when i aged out of my 20s) and i don’t have epiphanies that bear capturing on the page for others to ooh or aah over. i have no novel knocking around in my brain and have no earthly idea how to come up with an idea for one.
my 9 year old self would have plunged headlong into a long story, no worries, no second thoughts. she would have just written it, word after word flowing from her pencil on that wide-ruled paper, stopping only when her mother called her to supper.
i know that the idea of someone else reading what has been written is anathema to some writers, and the thought of writing something good enough to publish shuts down the mind like nothing else. but i don’t even think about writing for anyone else unless i’m penning a letter (which is my favorite kind of writing, and something i do frequently), and there is no way in hell i ever think about writing for publication. so what is holding me back?
laziness? fear of failure? avoidance? yes to all of these gremlins. i can always find something else to do; i always have a knitting project in progress, with a deadline for a baby or birthday gift, and when i knit i like to catch up on all the great shows i’ve discovered on netflix. when i’m not knitting i’m doing laundry or working (my one valid excuse for avoiding the page) or getting exercise (vital to my mental health and actually good thinking time to gather ideas for writing.) it is exceedingly rare for me to rise and shine and sit right down to write, even though i think about writing all the time.
perhaps it’s as simple as not having made a habit of carving out special time to write. for several years now i’ve had a standing coffee and reading time, every morning, before i do almost anything else. it is a comforting ritual, a way to ease into the day, and i take it very seriously. i usually leave the house to trick myself into the feeling that i’m off to do something important, and once i’ve finished my coffee i feel ready to take on the day.
i wonder if i have the strength of character, the discipline, to write instead of reading with my morning coffee. i imagine if i were to spend an hour or two in the morning emptying my mind onto paper it would have an excellent effect on the balance of the day. the writing doesn’t have to be stellar, the ideas don’t have to be new or earth-shattering, the point is to get the words down on the freaking page, day after day after day.
today is march 19th. tomorrow is march 20th. tomorrow i will take my laptop with me to the coffee shop and retrieve an hour’s worth of flotsam and jetsam from my head. and i will do it on the 21st, and the 22nd, and maybe even the 23rd. if what they say is true, i’ll keep doing it until it becomes a good habit, which would be until april 17th at the very least.
what have i got to lose? and think of all i have to gain. tomorrow. it begins.