I thought I finished writing about the pandemic. I’m weary from finding ways to convert coronavirus’s consequences into lessons learned that affect my writing. They exist, certainly. And I’m guessing you’re fatigued from reading about it. But I think I’ve got one more. Wake up!
Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write an entire first draft, fifty thousand words, during November. If things go well, you’ll have a manuscript at the end of the thirty days of the eleventh month.
I asked a writer friend if he’d ever read a particular classic novel. His face puckered up as he admitted, “Yes, I had to read that for school.”
There’s not enough time for all the great books. My friend, author Pat Stoltey, recently told me, “My worst moment when I was a kid was the moment I realized I would not be able to read all the books in the world.” I remember a similar moment in my life.
The sun is shining brightly over the mountains, there are hiking trails, time galore to do what you want, wine, good food, naps, reading. It sounds like the perfect vacation, right? Except, it’s a writing retreat. So, where’s the writing? Where’s the inspiration when you have the ideal time for it? What happens at a long-awaited writing retreat and inspiration to write falls below eating, drinking, and napping?
Who here has heard habit trumps motivation? I’ve mostly heard this phrase at conferences, in interviews, on YouTube, and anywhere else a person can listen to writing advice. They all say the same thing: “if you want to be successful, you need to make writing a habit.” I think it makes total sense. However, I’ve been struggling to form a consistent writing habit for a while now.
Great ideas rarely come to me when I’m staring at a word document. That would be a convenient time for them to show up, but inspiration is fickle. Maybe it’s because I can’t get my inner monologue to stop repeating, “Come up with a great idea. Come up with a great idea. Come up with a great idea.”
The pandemic has passed the six-month mark, and I’ve been riding the struggle bus.
Michael Christensen defines the struggle bus as “an imaginary bus representing a state of perpetual struggles or difficulties. A metaphor that relates physically riding a bus with going through hardships. Used with the same terminology of riding an actual bus: “on the struggle bus” or “riding the struggle bus.”
Introduced to a new coworker recently, “What do you do for fun?” I explained that I write. Since I write textbooks for a living, my new friend pressed me for a different answer. “No, not work. What do you do for fun?”
“You don’t spend every moment of every day writing,” they said. “What do you do when you’re not writing?”
My Fitbit died last week. It had always been on my wrist (other than showers) for the last year and a half. It held me accountable for moving more, celebrated when I moved a lot more, and actually told me the time. Something is missing that had become part of me.