Sitting at the Crossroads

They say spirits and demons can become trapped at crossroads. At least in the stories and legends. It turns out, so can writers.

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I have so many directions I could go at the moment that I haven’t been able to set foot down any path. There’s a feeling of importance hanging over me right now. Something is about to happen with my writing. Something is about to change. It’s making it harder for me to take that first step, to finally open up a project—any project—and get writing again.

What if I move in the wrong direction? What if I miss some wonderful opportunity?

I don’t know what the future holds, but I am painfully aware of my present. The pain that comes from a writer who isn’t giving themselves time to write. Continue reading “Sitting at the Crossroads”

Blooming

Last month, we enjoyed the Wind Moon—a time for clearing and letting go of what we don’t want. I let that thought be a meditative focus and cleared out two closets and a room that had fallen into entropy. All of those spaces are now being put to much more useful effect!

May’s full moon is sometimes called the Flower Moon. For this month, I’m focusing on bringing in beauty and joy to fill some of that cleared space. I want to let happiness and health blossom in myself and my family, and will try to make choices that support our growth.

What will you focus on?

The Magic Pencil

I sat down to write the other day, and couldn’t find my pencil. I specifically bought this pencil for my writing. While allowing myself to search for a few brief moments, I realized what trouble I would be in if I had turned this basic tool into a Magic Pencil, an indispensable tool that was vital to my writing process. If I had attached too much significance to it, my writing session could have been over before it began. This is why I don’t let myself form muse-attachments anymore.

Early in my research into writing, most of the people who mentioned this phenomenon were in favor of it. They said to write in the same place every day, at the same time. They advised having an inspiring picture, a special notebook, or other triggers to your creativity, all symbols meant to tell your muse, your writer’s intuition, “Now is the time to create.”

I’ve worked with symbols and the subconscious quite a bit in my life, and only one writer pointed out the danger of this plan. What if your schedule suddenly changes and you lose your key writing time? What if you move? What if you lose your magic writing pencil?

I used to have an entire room dedicated to my writing, with a huge desk, drawings of my characters on the walls, maps, charts, all kinds of triggers for ideas. I had special gorgeous journals and favorite fountain pens. Over time, the journals became spiral notebooks, the fountain pens became mechanical pencils, and my desk turned into a portable plastic folding table I can set up anywhere in my home in two minutes. I’ve never been more productive.

I let myself write free-hand, type, use dictation software, pens, pencils, journals, notepads, napkins; whatever is in arm’s reach becomes my writing tools, and I am never at a loss. I write at coffee shops, in bed, at the library, on the floor, in the kitchen, on the couch, at the park. The various scenery isn’t a distraction. It feeds my settings, enriches my descriptions, and reminds me that writing is a vital part of my life, but not my entire life. It lets me write anywhere, anytime, and maintain balance.

Symbols can be motivating and helpful, especially when you’re starting out. But it’s important to be conscious of how you’re using them.

Time

The most insidious form of procrastination for my writing hides in plain sight. “I don’t have time to write.” And yet, I have time to check my email, play a video game, or look at cute cat pictures on the Internet. I think we’ve all slid down this rabbit hole before.

I’m doing my best to fight it, and have started by testing what I can actually get done in a set amount of time. I recently told myself I didn’t have enough time to write because I only had fifteen minutes available. But I made myself get out my laptop anyway and closed off all distractions and wrote. Fingers to the keys, I wrote as hard and fast as I could. The word count was close to 800.

800 words in fifteen minutes. Let me put that another way. I aim for most of my novels to be 80,000 words. That’s 1/100 of a novel in just fifteen minutes. That might not seem like a lot. I’d have to do that a hundred more times to reach my goal, right? But the time is going to pass anyway. I could spend it on a video game (and sometimes I do – we all need to recharge), or I could spend it creating something, getting something out of myself that’s sometimes clawing, sometimes whining, sometimes singing to get out.

When I tell myself, “I don’t have time to write,” I see it for the tactic that it is. What I’m really saying is, “I don’t have as much time to write as I want.” That’s just one of the challenges of a writer’s life. Building skills, practicing, and seeing through my own diversion attempts all help me to become a better writer, a better person, and to live the life I choose.

Why Write

When I’m looking at a blank page, my inner critic likes to remind me that I haven’t published yet, and there’s every chance no one will ever see the words I’m about to put on the page. Writing is hard work, especially when I’m going through the entire process of finishing a novel, editing it, polishing it, and getting it ready for the world. And then begins the process of researching publishers to find a match for the piece, and there’s the daily work of always always always learning, reading, studying, practicing, all to improve my craft.

Why not just daydream and enjoy the stories myself?

And then I think about those moments when I’ve shared my work with someone who really got it. Someone who said, “Yes! This.” And that singular feeling of connecting with another human being drives me to keep going, to keep putting word after word on the page. It’s all the more terrifying for all the people out there who will say, “No. Not this.” But without trying, without sending out these flares of self-expression, I’ll miss those connections that make life so worthwhile.

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