My So-Called Glamorous Writing Life

I sit down at my L-shaped desk and fidget with the piles of school papers, Post-It notes, and books. Once my desk is tidy, my overwhelming email addiction demands that I check every single email account and answer every single email based upon importance. I probably need a 12 step program for email addiction, but it can go on my to do list right after my writing. The whole reason that I sat down at my desk is to write. But after an hour, I haven’t written one damn word. Except my to do list which says: “write a good paragraph.” Four words and no more.

But lately, my writing wallows at the end of a mile long list of crap. Despite putting it as number one, I choose to print out coupons(number seven on the list) or check Twitter and Facebook(not even on the list) or random internet searches(I’ll call this research). Next, I check my blog for comments, respond to comments(yes, this counts as writing. Or that’s what I tell myself), then I proceed to comment on my friends’ blogs. Certainly, they need someone to say nice things about their writing, right? Somehow, I meander to YouTube, and I’m sure I could have put off watching the Basset Hounds in slow motion until after writing. But they were so cute.

Five hours after I sat down to write, words meet ink and paper. To escape the noise and whining, I sit on the front porch with my legal pad and favorite blue pen. I bask in the warm sunshine and listen to the wheels whirring on 421. Finally, I wrestled myself free from the distractions—kids, the internet, social media, and myself(sort of). Holding my breath, I waited to see if I would be followed outside, but the doors never opened. I was safe. A few moments of quiet and writing time.

While I should have been thrilled, I berated myself for wasting five hours on stupid, mindless distractions. I imagined all of the words that could have been written each hour pushed towards a precipice. Once the hour passed, they tumbled down into vast nothingness. Never to have lived on paper. They haunt me, fuel my guilt, and strangle my creativity. My muse chokes upon the bile of these undead words.

Like so many unproductive days, I placed myself on trial for wasted writing time. I’m always guilty. Perhaps, I should feel some remorse and shame for all of the time misused. But then again, it’s just another excuse to avoid writing. Yet, I replay this cycle of distraction and guilt too often. Another moment to wallow in self-pity, another moment to poison my muse. Guilt and regret mingled together kill every ounce of creative energy.

But now, I see blue inked out words. Words breathing out their lives upon paper, and I feel a bit of the writer’s guilt melting away. With each new word, I forgive myself. Sentences take shape, and paragraphs lumber along. I keep writing and forming my thoughts, but mostly, I repent of the five hours wasted and work in the hours I have now. It’s the only thing I can do. Until tomorrow.

 Question: What things get in the way of your writing, art, etc? How do you overcome them?

Photo credit: Keith Williams via Flickr Creative Commons

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8 thoughts on “My So-Called Glamorous Writing Life

    1. Indeed, social media takes more time away from writing than anything else. Such a paradox, since social media provides us bloggers with a readily available outlet for our writing…here’s to writing lots of things today. Yes, I have already started a new fiction piece this morning BEFORE I blogged, tweeted, or Facebooked.

  1. As weird as it may sound, I believe that my greatest barrier would often be my own thoughts.  I often find myself trapped in moments of boundless over-thinking.  Picking apart the tiniest parts of my day to reveal any subtle nuisances to help me attain that moment of clarity that will reveal that hidden truth that I have been attempting to discover all along.  I believe they call it “daydreaming”.   

  2. Yikes. And I relate completely. This deadening cycle of avoidance and distraction, guilt trips, and shame. I loved your line “put myself on trial” because that names exactly what we do. My hang-ups are similar, I often feel the need to quantify my success, cross off big items on my list, and have a word count to show for it, and I rarely do. But also, I find that when I have patience with myself, and after spending fruitless hours on a few phrases, if I get a good night’s sleep and go at it again in the morning, the words come. I just need time to warm up to them and this rarely happens in a day. 

    1. I’m the queen of distractions, but also guilt trips. Right now, I’m focusing on just getting some ink to paper. It could be horrid, but it’s a start. And I need simply to start.

  3. Sarah, I too connect so much with this. I think that’s what writing is, sometimes . . . this funny, painful paradox of both loving and hating the written word. Grateful for your writing, friend. Thankful for grace when words don’t flow and grace when they do.

    1. The writing life is such a weird, wonderful, scary way to live, but it’s the only way I have found that brings joy. Despite the long periods of fighting for words and time and everything else.

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