The Chore Of Writing

For anyone who follows my posts, it is no secret I struggled with writing this year. My goal of publishing my latest work by the end of March fizzled big time. I then put it on hold until fall because experience tells me it is impossible to finish a book when my son is home during summer.

Now, it is officially my time – the time when I embrace projects with renewed determination and find motivation to not only write on a productive level but publish what I write. However, there have been setbacks (again) and while I would normally sidestep the creation process to deal with the seemingly more pressing demands of this current life, I refuse to give in.

Not this time.

In preparation for my return to full-time work, I spent the past month “digging deep.” Digging deep is not some intense or painful undertaking but rather a gentle process where I search within and gain insight into whatever is not working in my life. In this instance, I sought to find why I was not meeting my typical standards, expectations, and efficiency in getting another book to print.

Yes, busier family schedules and increasing personal challenges were part of the reason but there was something greater holding me back, and I needed to determine what it was.

Of course I considered the obvious possibilities: 1) I had little interest in this book, its characters, and plot OR 2) I no longer wanted to write. But these didn’t hold true because: 1) I was reminded how much I believe in the characters and love their story as I trudged through recent line-edits AND 2) I remembered how much I enjoy the entire process of writing no matter the difficulty or brutality of a certain phase.

Then, it dawned on me. I am an all-or-nothing kind of gal and the very fact that life no longer allowed the opportunity to write often left me frustrated. And so in a ridiculous fit of anger, I pouted like a child, stomped my foot, and declared, “if I can’t do it my way, I don’t want to do it at all!”

And that is precisely what happened: I didn’t do it at all.

Of course, this is unrealistic for any writer. We never have enough time – to create, edit, publish, or do all the in-between work and ever-after promotion. We cannot always do it our way.

Part of the reason we Indies go this route is because we want to do it all, do it our way, and do it on our schedule and terms. And when circumstances get in the way, we convince ourselves we are sacrificing quality, risking our vision, failing our readers, losing ground in the industry, or neglecting our own personal pull to create.

Some (who will remain nameless) become upset that everything (husband, son, dog, sports, school, travel, schedules, responsibilities, errands, appointments, health, home, crisis after crisis, daily life, breathing) is intentionally sabotaging and conspiring to quash their alone time, their escape, their passion, their one true dream.

We question our chosen path. We wonder why we keep chasing an unknown. We believe the process too difficult to complete. We decide we are not good enough. We worry it is not worth the struggle.  We become convinced it is never going to be. We consider giving up writing altogether.

I admit I believed each of these things in the past ten years of writing. But the worst part is, I believed them at the same time for much of this year.

Why would I want to continue something that had become such a chore?

Because I couldn’t make writing a priority and dedicate the time I believe it deserves, I perceived this as an indication that I no longer cared. But I do care. A lot. This is why it is so challenging to find the proper amount of time to commit to writing. I care.

So, have I decided to stop? No. I HAVE DECIDED TO REMEMBER …

  • Writing is not all-or-nothing. It is bits and pieces of a writer’s heart coming together slowly and lovingly to create something beautiful and lasting. We need to be patient.
  • Time is not something we have, it is something we make. Yes, there are only so many hours in the day, but we can better choose how to spend them. We need to make time.
  • Writing is not meant to be fun. Sure there are moments we love and joy can come from sharing our work, but the process is rarely easy (if it is, we are probably doing it wrong). We need to do the work.
  • Writing should be pursued for the right reasons. A few people make money, most do not. If it is something we are meant to do, we will continue regardless of the reward. We need to have purpose.
  • Writing is messy. Some days will be good while others will be very, very, very bad. There will be times when we feel like letting go. There will be moments when we choose to hold on. This is when we should pause. Reflect on the past, reassess the present, re-imagine the future. We need to dig deeper.
  • Writing is a solitary sport, but we cannot do it in total isolation. Finding confidence in ourselves comes from the support of others. Lean on family, friends, and other writers when necessary. It cannot always been done our way. We need to accept help.
  • This industry is ever-changing. Just when we think we have it figured out, something bigger, better, and faster bursts onto the scene. And though it is imperative to stay informed and be open to new ideas to improve chances of success, be wary of “information fatigue.” We need to be realistic.

If we hope to add a part of ourselves to this world, we have to give it what we can, when we can. And if the trappings of daily life continually align to stop us, we must remember writing is not a chore, it is a blessing. We need to be grateful. Because in all honesty …

We do not choose writing, writing chooses us.

P.S. - I am happy to announce that my book will be published by the end of this year. Pinky swear. Details to come soon.

Photo by Trevor Cole at Unsplash

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