Writing a blog three times a week may not seem like much work, but sometimes it is. Today is one of those days where I’m tempted to skip it, except so far this year I haven’t done that. I either write this blog or in my book for 30 minutes or 500 words, and it’s usually for an hour and over 1,000 words. Or more time and words, depending how much looking up stuff, dealing with photos, and going down rabbit holes. I just keep on doing my best to #Don’tBreakTheChain. After six months and 11 days, I ain’t about to quit. Or better put in tee shirt format:
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing them. It’s the *Thinking* about doing them is at times is like another hill I have to climb at the end of a bicycle ride. And very soon, my hobbies like writing may be a luxury. Let’s hope not, dear reader, for your sake and mine. Excuse me while I do some yoga and eat something. (Insert the pause that refreshes here.) Meanwhile, enjoy this panoramic photo I took on my bike ride today. Somebody in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin, Texas is a big fan of le Tour de France and paints the road in front of their house every year.
So How Does One Write When Not Wanting To, Dude?
You either have discipline or you don’t. I’m no writing guru, but I do think there is something to stick-to-it-iveness. Maybe it’s partially will power, but I think it’s more than that. It’s maybe a version of FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – and wondering, “Man, why didn’t I just write SOMETHING that one day? I would have had a solid year streak without that!” I don’t want to regret one bad day, but I also really would like to have that accomplishment under my belt. Maybe to impress others a little, but mostly to prove to myself that I could do it, and I did do it.
There’s also an aspect of fear. “What if I stop and I don’t start again?” Well, that is a possibility. Being realistic about life and goals and the same 24 hours we each have is important. As I alluded to earlier, I’m going to have to get busy working at a job to pay the bills very soon. Or, to quote Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman) quoting Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in the great Stephen King movie The Shawshank Redemption, “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”
What’s your why? In my case, I was motivated to become serious about writing because I rode my bike 10,000 miles in two years. After all that work, I felt and still feel that the story must be told. But it took me a whole year from when I decided I wanted to write a book until I started. It was far easier, in some respects, to keep riding my bike, than to begin writing a book and do so every day. If one person reads this blog and says, “Man, if that fat old dude can bike an average of 5,000 miles per year, I bet I could at least do 1,000. Or 10 miles today,” then I will have succeeded.
Writing as self-care. This aspect of writing is beneficial, whether anyone beside you reads it or not. Journalling or keeping a diary has been shown to be helpful to clarify your thoughts, get your emotions out, and otherwise clear out the cobwebs. I also write a diary sometimes, and while that has suffered some due to blogging and book writing, lately I’ve been doing it daily. Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way famously argued for writing three “morning pages,” to unlock creativity and reduce anxiety, so maybe I’m sort of doing that. (If you add to that three things you are grateful for — that you had a hand in — and you let yourself feel that gratitude, that is also supposed to be a big mood and brain booster.)
Look for inspiration. I’ve written about conversations I was fortunate enough to have had with authors Dale Thele and Michael Barnes. I’ve written about Owen Egerton and his One Page Salon inspiring me on several occasions. Also I have mentioned fellow writers I’ve met there like Phillip NR Hauser, Dave Perkins, Natalia Sylvester, and many more. It doesn’t hurt to immerse yourself in the world of writing, and in fact it really helps. As I told actor, director and bicyclist Tate Donovan when he asked me if I write, I said, “I suppose I do.”
In the end, there’s no substitute for writing, if you want to. “Writers write” is true. Half the battle is getting out of your own way. I’ve figured out how, for now. It helps that I’ve been unemployed. You don’t have to do it every day. (Neither do I, for that matter.) But if I also inspire someone to tell their story, even better. The world needs your story, and who else is better qualified to tell it than you? Get out there and stink it up with the rest of us in the blogosphere, internet, world wide web or whatever the kids are calling it these days.
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