Sometimes It’s Okay Not to Write

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We went to the tiny seaside fishing village with good intentions, not to fish, but to simply relax, enjoy some time away from daily life. It was our 46th wedding anniversary and in recent years we’ve enjoyed taking such a break on this occasion.

The view above was taken from the beach house balcony early on our first morning after arrival. Believe it or not, rather than inspire me, this view restricted my writing. I wanted to write, believe me. My intention had been to write about 1000 words while there. I thought the surroundings would be perfect.

It seems they were too perfect and I needed relaxation more than I needed writing. I spent most of the four days enjoying the view. Sure, I achieved some journal writing, but nothing more serious than that. In fact at the end of our first full day there I wrote:

My brain is like a hyperactive child after an overload of sugar. It is flitting all over the place, nothing productive. Maybe I need this quietness to enable my creative mind to have a rest, empty, then leave room for new ideas.

I eventually accepted that it was okay not to write. My brain fell into the peaceful rhythm of the sea and I chose to not disturb that rhythm as it became absorbed into my being.

Now I am home again, refreshed, and ready to start writing again.

Sometimes it’s okay not to write.

Why Daily Writing Practice Matters to Me

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Ever since I read Natalie Goldberg’s ‘Writing Down the Bones’ I have been a prolific filler of journals or notebooks as I go about my daily writing practice.

Each month I start a new journal, filling the pages with thoughts, ideas, inspirational quotes, whatever takes my fancy. Sometimes the pages are filled exploring ideas for my current writing project, other times the pages are filled with absolute rubbish. But still I write.

It’s the writing that matters, the moving the hand across the page as Natalie Goldberg puts it. Just as a sports person trains for an event and warms up before both training and competing, I warm up for my writing day.

Without this warm-up I fear I’d be facing a blank screen or  blank page, the ideas refusing to flow. I try to not miss a day of writing practice in my journals, whether I intend writing that day or not. After all, a successful sports person doesn’t miss a day of training just because they have no event coming up. Smooch the Cat often looks on, wanting to be part of the action.

April is coming to an end, now is the time to venture out and buy a new journal for May.

The Opposite of Writers’ Block, What a Problem

Writers, read on at your own discretion. You may find the following content upsetting, infuriating and totally insensitive. You may feel like throwing bricks at me across the world. You may become so envious you vow never to read my writing again. I’m sorry, I have a problem and I need to share it with you.

I’m experiencing the opposite of writers block. Too many ideas are rushing at me, too many projects demanding my time. Why can’t ideas pace themselves, take their turn in line, rather than fighting for my attention?

My long term book project graciously agreed to go on hold for a week or two as I experiment with a short story competition entry, for which the deadline looms. I’m like the turtle getting closer to the finish line, word by word.

A 2000 word essay for my online writing course needed a possible topic to emerge. Of course, now I’m swamped with ideas, taunting, calling to be written now. So much for the competition entry, I now have two projects on hold and an essay I want to write.

Next writing challenge, another deadline, a picture book workshop I’m attending next weekend. I do have stories to take, but …… they were written some time ago and my writing has changed. Which of the three possibilities shall I work on?

With all these ideas calling out to be written, you may wonder what my problem is? Let me tell you, time and my lack of ability to focus on one thing at a time. I want to write them all – now! This is quite bewildering. What happened to my old friend, writers block, allowing me time to write but with any possible ideas hiding under a rock.

I know, you’ll tell me I need to be strong, get focused, choose one idea and run with it. I’m exposing myself as a scatterbrain without self-discipline. You’re right. I need to set priorities. The first priority is the short story competition. I hope the other ideas don’t mind and will wait patiently for me.

Guilty of Neglect

The lovely ladies dressed in their swimwear stared at me from the screen, chiding me for my neglect.

“You call yourself a writer,” they said in their soft, feminine voices. “You encourage others to write daily. Where have you been?”

“I have been writing,” I said, “just not here.

Disappointment oozed from their silent faces “Your blog was part of the bargain,” thy reminded me, “part of your daily writing practice commitment.”

“I know, I know,” I replied, ‘but I’ve had other writing priorities this month.”

I lowered my eyes in shame at neglecting the lovely ladies who lent me their image. They’ve stared at me each day from my home page, inviting me into the water, trying to entice me into my own writing space. I owe the ladies more attention. So, here I am, ready once more to write the stories of ordinary people. I’ve been away too long.

Uncovering Treasure through Journal Writing

We’ve all heard more times than we care to remember how daily Journal Writing is essential for any writer. I love writing in my journal, pencil to paper, but until about two months ago was never consistent. Now I write two or three pages of random writing on a regular basis and I’m surprised at the potential writing ideas emerging. Take last night for example, for some reason I started thinking about clocks as I wrote.

Clocks ticking can add suspense. Tick, tick, tick into the silence. Breath held, waiting in anticipation. What will happen next?

Those few words enabled an image of a clock to appear in my mind, a clock that would have probably been ticking at a meeting of important people I’ve just written a short scene about for my writing group monthly piece. Great, I’ll add a little clock detail into my piece today and at the same time throw a portrait of a previous Mayor on to that same wall as well.

Then I remembered the large timing clock high on the wall at the swimming pool. This will add more detail to my Work in Progress.

There’s no indication in my journal as to how I moved from writing about an incident that happened during the day to clocks. But I’m glad my mind made the transition, as the image of clocks will improve both pieces of writing.

I started my journal writing last night thinking that many of the words tumbled onto the empty pages were wasted words, never to be used. I now know writers are like gold miners. They have to dig through a lot of rubble and discard it before uncovering a tiny gem.

So keep up the journal writing, you never know when your next little treasured piece will reveal itself to you.