If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.
My senior year in college I stopped writing completely. That was in 1999 and I didn’t write again until 2006. Those seven years were among some of the most unhappy years of my life. I wasn’t just depressed, I was frustrated and itchy and couldn’t get any relief. It was like my mind was a horrible wool sweater I was forced to wear in the middle of July.
Not writing was extremely painful.
We’re on the brink of autumn and it seems like everyone is starting something new. School is back in, classes are starting, and most of us are trying to figure out a way to balance work, life, and writing. It’s easy to say “This weekend I’m going to really sit down and get some writing done” and much harder to actually do it. If you’re really looking for the best way to make time for your writing then you have to make yourself accountable.
Here are just a few ways you can make the commitment to show up for your writing.
Every writer knows that bad writing usually includes one-dimensional characters. Readers aren’t satisfied by a story in which the heroes are sugary sweet and the villains seem motivated only by pure evil. Not only is it difficult to get emotionally attached to characters with superficial personalities, but their actions don’t add much to the story. We already know what they’re going to do before they do it, and why. Because they’re good. Or because they’re evil. Case closed.
Not just anyone can be a writer.
Common wisdom says that writing takes persistence, a relentless belief in your own imaginary worlds, and the kind of thick skin that can take constant rejection. And yes, the pursuit of writing does call for all of these qualities, but perhaps hardest of all is the subtle demands it makes on a person’s store of courage.
Last week I listened to the Saturday morning Dharma Talk from the SF Zen Center by Rosalie Curtis. The subject of her talk was sangha, which in its simplest form means “community.” Curtis mentioned that her favorite definition of sangha is “a community of people who come together to do something good,” which I really liked. It resonated with me because the moment I started thinking about community, I started thinking about writers. Specifically, I thought about how I meet with my own little sangha of writers on Thursday nights, but also how I’ve recently joined larger sanghas of writers online in the past few months.