Creating the Space to Create
We've all heard the advice that if you want to be a writer, you must "write every day"
“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.” Jane Yolen
This used to stress me out, as the balls I have to keep in the air sometimes simply don't allow me to take much time to write, unless I sacrifice something very rare and valuable--like time with my daughter or sleep.
When I couldn't find the time or focus to write something daily, I began to tell myself things like: "You'll never be a writer, because REAL writers write all the time." This led to a vicious cycle of anger with myself for not writing which would become writer's block leading to more "not writing". I had this image that "real writers," especially those who write fiction, woke up every day with their mind mostly in the fictional world, so they wrote and wrote and wrote, hardly stopping for breath.
In my mind, the only "real writing" in this scenario was the writing of stories or non-fiction pieces toward publication. I couldn't wrap my head around the idea, supported by Jane Yolen's quote, that anything we write can be part of practicing our craft.
I am a writer. I write every day.
Yesterday, I had to wear one of my other hats, because--as much as I wish it would--grading doesn't do itself. Yet even grading helps me improve my craft; as I put on an editorial eye to grade student papers or creative projects.
I also had to switch hats several times yesterday, putting on one that asked me to sculpt e-mails, crafting them with caution so that my anger and frustration at certain situations didn't come through. That's writing, even if it's not the fun kind.
While I wanted to be working on something else--one of my works in progress or a blog post or anything--I had to get the grading done or I would never have been able to focus. Monday and Tuesday next week I will have to do the same.
What I've come to realize is that writing isn't about carving out hours in the day to write exclusively. Sure that's valuable and wonderful when it happens, but that alone doesn't mean that someone is automatically an excellent writer. I could have made some time yesterday--either by writing in the wee hours of the morning when my mind woke me up anyway, or giving up some reading and mindless television in the evening--but that wouldn't have made me write anyway . . .
Because, for me, it seems that it is more important to create space in my mind for creation, then time in my day.
What does this mean? It means that, when my head is cluttered with all the other things I have to do, I cannot write or create anything. It means that, if I want to become the writer I'd like to be, I must take time to live, breathe, observe, rest, think, dream, walk, sleep, eat, laugh, and everything else.
If I want to write, I have to find that calm, magical, mysterious space inside where creation and imagination dwell.
[caption id="attachment_6598" align="aligncenter" width="900"] Photo by Nancy Lum[/caption]
One of my dearest, long-term friends took the above photo somewhere in Japan last fall. She sent it to me today (along with several other amazing photos) as a Mother's Day message. I include it here because it is a place to write about, as well as someplace I would love to write. It evokes the sounds and smells of Japan, a country I miss with all my heart. It brings back fond memories of my friendship with Nancy, and the adventurous times at a different period of my life. It suggests endless possibilities for story and poetry.
Nancy's photography always inspire me. That point of inspiration is inside, and it is the seed of creation.
What do YOU need to do to create a space or a time for writing?
When I finally gave myself time and space I was able to accomplish the dream of publishing P.O.W.ER.
For each book sold, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to causes that support women and children around the world.