What I’ve learned #1
One of the facets of being a full-time writer (besides perpetual poverty), especially in the social media age is the rash of writing advice that people are giving online. There are more websites devoted to helping people become writers than actual writers writing. Obviously, that’s hyperbole, but a “writers to follow” search in Google will often bring you to a site of a writer offering tips. I wonder how many of us spend more time on those sites than writing, or even reading.
Why are we so fascinated with other writer’s processes? We’re all guilty of it, especially me. I have (or had) a book of pictures of writer’s offices. I see daily articles on topics like what time of day to write, or wresting meaning from your daily life. I saw an article recently about the things we DON’T do. For example, “since I began writing, I don’t have time to cook or maintain a garden.” In the comments section, someone wrote that they don’t clean the house anymore. Someone wrote church (church!).
I don’t think embedding yourself into a writing life should necessarily preclude a person from doing the things they enjoy doing. In fact, I’ve found myself being a better user of my own time, as opposed to someone who needs to cut hobbies. I’ve eliminated most TV, but I was never really a TV watcher anyway. But, since I began living a life solely dedicated to writing, I’ve become more likely to read, more likely to make sure the menu is delicious for my wife, more likely to help around the house with chores, more likely to want to walk the dog.
That hasn’t hurt my writing one bit, either. It’s enhanced it. I’m not sitting at a computer, watching a cursor blink while I wait for inspiration. My writing is enhanced by the regularities of life. I write in the morning, stopping occasionally, when I’m stuck, or when I want a coffee refill or when the dog wants to go out. I eat lunch. I take a walk with the dog. I come back in the afternoon and write. Sometimes I’m more successful than other days. But it’s never because I gave up doing something. Writing is fueled by our lives. If we’re not living our lives, our writing is going to be boring.
A writer friend of mine told me “agoraphobia can be bad in writers.” Simply put, push back the horizons, seek the meaning in every day events. Don’t see walking the dog, or taking the car for an oil change as a chore as much as an opportunity to examine the world. Watch the people, take notes. The best way to cure writer’s block is not to keep writing. It’s to stop writing and, instead of putting information out, let it come in.