The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes. ~Agatha Christie
If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad. ~ Lord Byron
Writing is constantly on my mind—the intricate ideas that come to me, incredibly sentimental stories that I never want to forget, and poignant moments that beg to be captured on page—these gems of writing inspiration that await their ink debut never truly release their grip on me until I find the time to sit down and write. Ironically, so many of my best writing ideas come at the most irritatingly inconvenient times (while showering or driving, grocery shopping, when rocking a child to sleep). Because I never can tell when inspiration might strike, I’ve become quite adept at making mental outlines to transfer onto page as soon as possible, also utilizing the Notes feature on my iTouch in a pinch, and I’m even going to admit to prematurely stopping a shower just to jot ideas down. Pens and paper are kept in every room of the house so that I never have to search too far for a writing utensil in case of these frequent writer’s mind emergencies. My experience is all too familiar with a spark of writing doused prematurely by seeking out a pen and paper in which to record incredible thoughts. Such a waste of creative juices–and I arm myself and my surroundings with preparation. Often, I must improvise to bring writing ideas in my head to real ideas on paper. Some of my best work was first begun on the back of old receipts, a stack of restaurant napkins can be some of the best uses for poetry, and one of my best class exercises was originally penned in the middle of my personal Moleskin journal while I sat in the waiting room during one of The Boy’s speech therapy sessions.
Challenges to my writing await me from dawn until dusk—every day obstacles to lofty writing goals stand in my way as I can come up with a thousand excuses for not writing or by distracting myself with a to-do list miles long–anything to avoid this mad passion called writing. Typically, it is I whom sets the barricade to personal literary ambitions talking myself away from my desk any chance I can for a myriad of reasons and excuses. This week, for instance, I was inhibited because of feelings. I felt overwhelmed by deep and heavy emotions brought on by the anniversary of my father’s passing and some other personal struggles I’ve been slowly making my way through. As a result, the only type of writing that I accomplished was limited to short snippets in my electronic journal and a few free-writing exercises. On days when writing feels like just one more task to complete, I tend to keep my fingers engaged by setting a timer to free-write or just pound away on the keys filling up pages in my Word document journal, consoling myself with the fact that at least I wrote something.
What I’ve learned since I took a chance on myself this fall by investing in a life-changing online writing class is that I have to write when I can. More importantly, I am the only one whom can make writing a top priority–only I can carve out time for myself to write, but then I actually have to follow through. So, before sitting down to write on this beautiful early Spring-like Sunday eve, I looked ahead on my calendar to figure out when I might be able to devote some time to writing this week and realized that I have quite the busy week ahead filled with PSR class, school programs, soccer practices, and more. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by my schedule, thinking that I might not have any time at all to write, I chose instead to see the promise in the week ahead and decided that I will just have to come prepared. Whether I’m in the car lane during school pick-up, on the soccer field watching the kids’ practices, or wrestling Baby Girl down for a nap, I will keep my ears and eyes sharp for the key moments happening around me and write on the go. I’ll use the iTouch notes app if necessary, and will pack my favorite pen and paper along with the snacks and water bottles and tuck an extra pair of writing tools beside the backpacks and soccer balls. If ever I’m going to excel at writing, if ever I’m going to post more than once a week on this blog, if ever I’m going to break the 100-page mark on the creative nonfiction book I’m writing, then I’m going to have to get creative about how, when, and where I can write. For too long I’ve separated my writing life from the life that I am living. For far too long, I’ve not been giving the time and attention that my true passion (writing) deserves. What I learned from my online writing instructor and that I now know and believe to be true is that I absolutely must write my words because they matter. My stories are significant, my unique voice needs to be heard, and writing is just as much a part of me as is being a Catholic, wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend. The courage I needed to write my truth has finally peaked, and as Sylvia Plath once wrote, “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” Nevermore will I let crippling self-doubt, fear, or anxiety cloud or ruin my personal worth as a writer ever again.
And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath