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June 27th, 2023
Warning – I’m purposefully not editing this post (even though I just went back and respelled warning)…
I just set my timer for fifty-nine minutes, determined to sit down and make myself write. I feel scattered and stressed and exhausted. So many factors feel like they need to fall into place (or be forced there) before I can get back to my main goal, which is to write.
Saying that feels embarrassing. It sounds very flighty to me to say out loud, “I want to be a writer.” I might as well be saying I want to go to the moon. At this point, thanks to technology, it seems like there is more chance at succeeding in a space trip. After all, with AI making it’s way into the world, we can just pull up apps like ChatGPT and ask a computer to compose stories for us, right?
When I hear the question, “What do you want to do?”, I feel like a space-cadet saying, “I want to write.” I’m forty-six, and surely by now, I should have more grounded goals.
And yet, here I am, sitting in a hotel room, needing to pack up for yet another nomadic week, typing my troubles and hoping to somehow encourage someone else in theirs.
I’ve told myself to just write for fifty-nine minutes, don’t look back and try to edit. Quit trying to make every word come out with perfect pre-determined cadence. Just type.
Don’t look up from the screen to see the chaos that surrounds you.
You can get it shoved in bags and boxes again, you can get it situated enough into your trailer to be able to shut the door. Hopefully your bike with the questionable crackling tires won’t tip over and scratch those pretty blue cabinets that you hope to some day see when all your crap has a final resting place…
When people tell me they want to improve their writing; but don’t know how, I try to encourage them to just write. Just start. Just practice.– Note to self
So why is it so hard for me to get started again?
Excuses For Not Writing
- I have too much to do.
- I don’t have a quiet place to concentrate.
- I’m surrounded by too much chaos.
- I have too many ideas and don’t know where to start.
- I never finish any of my writing projects anyway.
- My story is too embarrassing.
- What I have to say feels too raw.
- It feels like a waste of time.
- What if people get mad?
- What if what I have to say doesn’t make sense?
- What if I make a fool of myself?
- I’m no good at grammar.
- My spelling is otroshus (atrocious).
- I can’t type.
- My handwriting is terrible.
- I need a better computer.
- I need a clean notebook and prettier pens.
- When I finish _________, I will begin.
The list can go on and on.
I have made all of the excuses.
I have made a lot of those excuses this morning – and every morning. The busier life gets, the more I have to say; but the easier it is to balk at the idea of sitting down and being disciplined to say it.
While my mom was on Hospice, I often convinced myself I didn’t have time to write. Sometimes, as an outlet, I’d record my voice in memos on my phone, thinking I’d go back someday and be able to remind myself of the story we lived out together.
My phone storage is now overflowing. I got an external hard drive to save it; but figuring that out has just been one more thing to do.
Every time I try to open a file it tells me something new, like I need a new codex – I don’t even know what that is, and the thought of finding out just leaves me feeling like I’m sinking in a cesspool of too much data.
That sounds overly-dramatic, I know; but I liked the way the “s” and “d” sounds rolled off my fingertips, so I put them there, and yes, in my state of exhaustion, I do feel rather like a silent drama-queen at times. Well, really more like a drama-drone, buzzing internally about all that needs to be done, going from one place to the next, trying to keep things in order while so much continues to spin out of control.
I’m heading back to St. Louis today. As of tomorrow, it will be five weeks since the second funeral we had for my mom. I’m going back to go through her clothes and papers, while mine are strewn all over a hotel room bed and need to be packed away into boxes and suitcases and stashed in my trailer that still isn’t finished. I wish I could get some semblance of order.
I’m supposed to go back to St. Louis and say what I want from my parent’s house before it is put on the market; but I have no certain dwelling place to put it.
I think of my passport, banking information, social security card and wonder what is a safe place to put these while I’m being tossed from one place to another…
I think of Jesus and how He gave up His Home in Heaven for us, and did not know where He would lay His head…
I think of how He happened to have a pillow on a ship in the midst of a storm and how His friends got exasperated at the idea that He could rest while they were fearing for their lives…
I think of my gratitude for His willingness to lay down now only His life; but His comfort…
I think of the many refugees who have fled from war-torn countries without papers, without pillows, without clothes to carry or items to sort through.
Our possessions simplify things and complicate our lives all at the same time.
I often can’t tell if it’s what I lack that’s keeping me from writing, or the chaos of what I have and haven’t been able to keep in order…
I feel ashamed for not having things together. I feel determined to set things straight.
Reality hits me. I have to get on a plane again. Even if I put it in my cargo trailer conversion in an orderly way, it will all have to come out again, so that I can move the trailer without everything falling over – so that I can finish the trailer to put everything back in…
I have twenty-four minutes left and I’m feeling self-conscious, like why am I writing this for the public to see? Is it a waste of words? Most of the time, yes; but that’s another rule of writing.
Aye yae yae. Does anybody know how that’s spelled?
Anyway, I’m saying all of this to encourage myself and anyone who wants to be a writer to say, just write.
Advice for Someone Who Wants to be a Writer
- Turn off your ringer.
- Set a timer.
- Don’t feel like you have to have everything in your life in order before you start.
- If you feel too stressed to write, begin by describing your roadblocks.
- Don’t worry about grammar and spelling at first.
- Let the chaos of your ideas and thoughts just flow, they can be organized later.
- Write for yourself. Dare to type what you wouldn’t say out loud.
- If you are distracted by noise, try using headphones and playing something like “relaxing cello music” from YouTube.
- Recognize that the struggle is part of the story.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Write letters, lists, eulogies, poems and prose – long and short. The more you try to write, the easier it will be to form your own style.
- Use your own voice. Share your thoughts the way you would say them. Don’t feel like you have to copy somebody else’s dialect or do things like they would.
- Look for some form of redemption, or irony, or humor – something that could help you, or another person. You don’t have to be Pollyanna, and play “The Glad Game”; but the human experience, even in suffering, can go along way in allowing others to gather courage.
- Okay, I’m probably pontificating now – probably don’t do that. We all have our soapboxes; but having the humility to say things (like – I don’t actually know where the term soapbox comes from) can go a long way toward being relatable to readers.
- Don’t let discouragement stop you – write about that, too.
Okay, I’m down to five minutes, seventeen seconds. I suppose I should wrap this up – especially since I’m starting to ramble.
On Sunday, while trying to hold myself together, knowing I was exhausted, and feeling overwhelmed that the finish line of wandering too and fro about the earth seems no where in sight, a friend advised me, something like, “This is a hard season. Keep saying it. Keep reaching out to people and telling them what you’re going through. Somehow talking about it can help take the sting away.”
I don’t want to be a broken record; but I know what she has said is true. Like all the stuff I’ve stuffed in my trailer, I know eventually I’m gonna have to unpack my emotions and sort them out.
It’s been something like forty-six days since my mom died. My body still hasn’t figured out how to sleep more than six hours. I am exhausted. Somebody said the other day, “Why are you exhausted, when you don’t even have a job?” I just stood there. I also don’t have a home. I knew they were teasing; but they didn’t know the war that had been going on in my soul.
My timer ran out; but I’m still typing.
The week before, somebody had been talking about the shield of faith we’re to bear to extinguish the fiery arrows of Satan – I realized if I hold that shield, I won’t have hands to pick up the arrows myself and plunge them into my own soul – “you’re failing, you’re falling further and further behind, you are so naïve, who do you think you are to think you have anything to say, you’re wasting your time and everybody else’s to try and be a writer, blah blah blah blah blah…”
I’ve been saving Satan lots of trouble, saying things to myself that any seventh grader would get sent to the principal’s office for saying to a peer.
Know When to Stop Writing
My timer went off. It’s time to stop. That’s my best advice to myself write now. Set aside a chunk of time, and then have a sturdy finish line. With any kind of art or creativity, there is no clear cut end. Sometimes setting boundaries and parameters can help to keep things in better order.
Besides, when i write too long, I begin to ramble.
Times up – and I’m not even going to go back and fix that lower-case I – it’s okay to let go of perfection. There will always be some form of chaos in this world. It’s time I learn to accept that and roll with it.