Let me explain. In my mind, there are two kinds of writing. Real writing and everything else. Real writing would include novels, nonfiction books, screenplays and other long form projects. Everything else would include everything else. Like this blog.
I enjoy the whole blog thing. Over the last few years, I’ve compiled more than a hundred posts, most of them quite substantial. None of that throwaway stuff for me. It’s nice to have a forum for expressing myself, getting things off my chest, communicating with my small but loyal band of followers. And it keeps me sharp, at least sharper than not doing it. But it’s not real writing.
Neither are the pieces I write for work: web content, brochure copy, radio and TV commercials, marketing reports. (Don’t tell my clients.) I pride myself on being a professional who always delivers the goods. It pays the bills. But it’s not real writing.
I’ve got a couple of real writing projects I need to get started on, one fiction, one nonfiction. They tug at my sleeve every day, whispering (sometimes shouting), “Hey, remember me?” That’s where I’m stuck. I can’t get off the schneid. And not just for weeks or months, but years. I’ve compiled outlines, treatments and folders stuffed with notes, all sitting there, tormenting me. Unfortunately, I also have an endless supply of excuses. Not enough hours in the day. No energy. And my personal favorite, how can I go home and write when I spend most of my time at work writing for other people? A man’s gotta have some downtime, doesn’t he?
And yet, I have friends and associates in the same boat who somehow find the time and energy. Are they more dedicated and committed than I am? You betcha. Which just makes the stuckness more unbearable.
When dealing with a seemingly insurmountable problem, I believe in consulting a higher power. In this instance, my higher power is the book “Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path” by Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott. http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Steps-Writers-Path- Frustration/dp/0345451104 The book spells out the seven steps all writers find themselves on at various points in their careers. I’ve owned it for years and consulted it many times, but somehow I forgot about it during my current situation. All part of being stuck.
But the other day, it practically jumped out at me from the bookshelf while I was searching for something else. Not one to ignore a sign, I immediately dived in, relishing the “ah-ha moments” that inhabit every page. In case you’re wondering, here are the steps:
Unhappiness Wanting Commitment Wavering Letting Go Immersion Fulfillment
You’ve probably figured out that I’ve been dwelling in unhappiness since the Bush Administration (43, not 41). That’s not necessarily a political statement (although it could be); just a way to measure time.
But lately, I’ve been getting that itch. Some of it is really bad sunburn, but some of it is a palpable need to get back in the game. Which leads me to the third step, Commitment, and the reason for this blog. According to the authors, commitment works better when
you tell someone. So I’m telling you. Starting today (okay, maybe tomorrow), I’m a real writer again. (Note to clients and colleagues:
That doesn’t mean I’m quitting my day job. It just means I’m going to find the time and energy to squeeze in an hour a day.) I’m
starting with the nonfiction project because it’s shorter and maybe a little easier. But it’s real writing just the same.
Here’s where I need your help. Hold me to it. Check in with me from time to time. Express disappointment and cluck disapprovingly if I take my eye off the ball. If you do that for me, I can get this thing done.
And I’ll mention you in the Acknowledgment section.