Habit-forming

I’m still pretty new at creative writing. It’s a little over two years since I first picked up a pencil (hence my blog title) and started to write. I wasn’t resuming a past hobby, or responding to a previously ignored creative urge. This is something that took me completely by surprise. Thinking back, I have no memories of writing stories at school or university. I quite enjoyed the challenge of writing essays, but after the effort of producing a Master’s thesis, I had no thoughts of writing again. Having to finish the thesis off while also starting my first job in a new part of the country probably contributed.

Now I’m an enthusiastic scribbler, keen to learn. So far, my creative well shows no signs of drying up. (Crosses fingers.) I write both for my home site, Gay Authors  (where my longer fiction appears), and flash pieces for YeahWrite . Currently I have no plans to submit my work elsewhere or heaven forbid, earn any money from it. My writing is a fulfilling hobby.

Recently, a post from a blog I follow urged budding authors to write something every day. Partly this came across as a self-discipline issue, and also as a ‘practice makes perfect’ sort of thing. Mostly, I manage to write daily (if you stretch the definition of ‘writing’ to include editing). I write even on days when I feel no spark of imagination, and words constantly elude me. I find the sludge produced then is still useful. It needs a lot of sifting, but there’s always some good stuff at the bottom.

So, is this the point of my essay? Awarding myself self-congratulatory brownie points on ticking some authorial boxes? No. Definitely not. Let’s examine my situation. I’m a part-time worker in good health with no dependants, no pets, and a small, mostly hassle-free flat. I live in the UK where there’s little restriction on what I might write. The surprise should be if I didn’t manage to produce something most days.

How about the other side of the coin? Take my editor. He complains about his lack of time for writing because he’s a teacher with full-on commitments. Yet he manages to compose verses which I can only dream of producing. And he’s got a third novel on the go. He also edits and beta-reads for people like me, out of his own goodwill. He needs no lectures on self-discipline. I imagine such opportunities he manages to carve out for writing get used to the max.

I however, with my expanse of available time, find myself getting distracted. The internet (big culprit), random thoughts, diversions, they all eat into what should be my peak productivity. Fortunately deadlines (self-imposed or not) help me to get focussed. I have to write x number of words; something has to be submitted by such and such date. It fits with my lack of get up and go that the writing bug struck only once I moved to part-time working. Now the infection is deep-seated, would I continue writing if I had to return to a full-time job? Good question.

How many of you reading this write against the odds? Your job, family, caring responsibilities, health issues, or just life in general get in the way. Never mind those who write in an atmosphere of repression, the fear of reprisals hanging over them. For all of you, writing something every day may seem impossible (or an unimaginable luxury). Yet you find the strength to write. You have the habit as much as me. Somehow you make time for your hobby, your alternative income stream, your release from the stresses of life. You have my admiration. I know if I continued in my previous job, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

So back to my question. Yes, I would find the time and energy to write. The creative urge would remain, and if you can do it, so can I.

© 2018, northie

This short essay was prompted by the blog post noted above and submitted to YeahWrite. I welcome comments and constructive criticism.

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12 thoughts on “Habit-forming

    • Hi Neil, writing every day isn’t necessary for every writer, I think. I do partly because a day feels odd, unfinished, if I haven’t worked on something. As for letting your mind wander … Absolutely. New story ideas, plot twists, new characters … I just wish those thoughts didn’t happen when I’m trying to concentrate on something else. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It really is so easy to find reasons not to write! Like you, I find writing so fulfilling, but never seem to have time for it. Recently, I have been making a point to write whenever I have a spare minute, and it feels so great to be writing regularly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s like a creative itch which has to be quelled. Certainly if I go more than a day without doing anything, it feels odd. I’m glad you are writing. Thanks for your comment.

      Like

  2. In the peak of busyness, I could never find time to write. Now that I can be a bit selfish with my time, I too find it fulfilling. At first I just enjoyed producing, but now I wouldn’t mind reaching out to a wider audience. With your self-imposed limits, I’m glad you’re hanging around YeahWrite.

    Liked by 1 person

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