I am a writer.

I’m WAAAY overdue on a #readingwritingresistance post, due to travel and life. It’s all outlined in my head; I just have to get it onto the screen.

But right now, I’m pausing to reflect on how much I love my blog. I came in here to quickly look for a couple of writing samples, and I got lost re-reading old posts. And you know what? I really like my writing!

I think my style is fun to read. I think I’m occasionally pretty insightful. I like seeing how my reflections on a topic evolve over time. I appreciate the markers of life events that my blog posts provide.

I enjoy the confirmation that I’ve been mulling over justice issues for years and years; that’s not a front, that’s really and truly me. And I confirmed something else after reading through all this: I am a writer. I’m not always a polished writer. I’m definitely not a consistent or disciplined writer. But I produce content, with some regularity, and at a decent level of quality.

I’ve been loath to claim that label. I’ve always felt that I wasn’t a “real” writer because I wasn’t doing it as often or in whatever way I thought a “real” writer should. I’ve done this multiple times with different labels over the years: always assuming that however I did things didn’t count because it didn’t look exactly the same as how others did it. Never recognizing that it is a way of being and engaging with the world – in this case, processing and communicating my thoughts through the written word – that are at the core of these identities, as much or more than a particular form of activity.

Perhaps this will be the year of finally getting over my BS lack of confidence and being willing to claim my skills and talents without reservation. I am a designer. I am an organizer. I am a leader.

And yes, indeed, I am a writer.


Writer, Blocked

[This was originally going to be a Facebook post; but in the spirit of trying to reactivate my blog where I’m trying to get back to regularly writing, I decided to post it here instead. Baby steps.]

How do people find time to write?

That’s not a rhetorical question; it’s a real, practical one. I think of things I want to write about constantly, even flesh out a potential blog piece in some reasonable detail; but I never get around to writing them. The ideas almost always occur to me at the most inconvenient moments – when I’m on the bus, when I’m going to sleep – and I don’t usually start writing because I know I won’t be able to finish what I want to write. Since that feels like a rather defeatist perspective, sometimes I do start a piece and sketch it out, so i can at least capture some of the idea – but then I rarely go back to it, because my mind has moved on to something else.

So, my writer friends: do you have this problem? What do you do? What’s your method for capturing those ideas for a piece when they occur to you? How do you manage the frustration of not being able to get down that entire elegant flow of words the way it first occurred to you, the way that made you feel like you had something worthwhile to say? How do you get your brain to go back and re-focus on that thing that occurred to you a week ago when your mind is already full of other, new things?

And how do you find the time, if you feel like every day you come home tired with a whole list things you ought be doing and no time for all of that list, let alone the extra thing that you wish you could do but that won’t pay your bills or clean your house or get dinner on the table? I’m trying to figure out how to reframe the way I’m thinking about this, because I feel seriously frustrated.

[And back to that Facebook thing … I find/make time to rant on FB all the time. And it’s not infrequent that I post something that could be considered blog post length, albeit a short post. So sometimes I feel like I’m wasting whatever writing energy I have there instead of doing more coherent and thought-out things here, because it’s so easy for me to get the fire and dash off a paragraph or three in response to something that gets me het up. Does anyone else find that an issue? And if so, how do you deal with it?]

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

The principle also works pretty well for bocce.

My Lent had a strange finish.  I was so excited that today was going to be my 300th blog post, which seemed like a fitting end to a successful writing challenge.  Instead, it’s the 299th, because, after 45 days of successfully posting despite stress, travel, tiredness and occasional lack of inspiration, I missed day 46 of 46.  I now have much more sympathy for the Patriots 2007-8 season, and I can finally forgive them for my sports fan trauma after that tragic single loss.

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Meta Blogging

One of the many weird aspects of this challenge is that I’ve gotten very self-conscious about what I decide to write.  Maybe it’s something that happens when you start to write more, and when your work starts to get seen more.  I don’t think I’ve ever thought as much about choosing a topic as I have this past month; usually, I just blog whatever comes into my head.

These days, my biggest worry is that I’ve written about a topic before.  I have all these observations that come into my head about my inner state of being and my relationships with other people; but since I’ve had this blog for a long time, and I’ve been thinking about those issues for a long time, I often catch myself saying, “Wait, are you absolutely certain you haven’t told that story before?  How embarrassing would it be to go back and discover that you’d written basically the same blog post three years ago.”  In fact, I’ve already done another blog post during this challenge that talked about that fear; perhaps I am truly unoriginal and can only tell a handful of stories.

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Blog Avoidance

It’s Day 33!  I’m excited to have come this far in my challenge and kept my commitment, through travel, tiredness, transitions, and the general whatnot of life.  It’s been though some days, but generally really good.

Today is one of those tough days: I’m on an overnight bus ride that’s taking a little longer than normal, and I’m sad to have just left my family — especially my little niece — after a too-short visit.  I had to talk myself into not pulling an “oops, I slept through midnight and forgot,” as if I could somehow pretend that was an accident instead of a deliberate choice to go back to sleep when I was clearly awake and able to blog.  I like that this has become something of a point of honor for me, that I committed to doing this every day and I’m not going to let myself out of it.  Discipline works!

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I forgot to note that Thursday marked my 23rd Lent blog post – halfway through my challenge.  When I realized that, my first thought was that I didn’t have that long until I was done and didn’t have to push myself to do this every day.  But my second thought was, “Wait!  I like blogging; I don’t want this to stop in 3 weeks!”

It’s a funny thing about discipline; when you start out saying that you need to get back in the habit of doing something regularly, it can feel like a chore, and you don’t necessarily get excited about having to do it (or at least I don’t).  But sometimes forcing yourself to get back in the habit of doing something reminds you why you ever had the habit in the first place; it reconnects you with something you actually like.  I’ve had a blog for over seven years for a reason, and it isn’t because I hate writing or sharing my writing.  In fact, in those periods when I wasn’t really posting regularly, I would still think of things that I wanted to blog about all the time; but then I would feel frustrated because I never felt like I had the time to sit down and write.  Part of the reason for this challenge was realizing that I wanted to make the time rather than lamenting that I didn’t have it, because I felt like if I tried a little harder that time really was there more often than I thought it was.  (Turns out, I was right.)  But somehow, when I put the label “discipline” on it, I forgot about the fact that it was a pleasure and thought about it mostly as an obligation.

Sometimes it does still feel like that; especially on days like today when I am busy or tired, it’s hard to pull up the browser or the app on my phone and not sigh a little in irritation.  It’s hard not to want to start every other post with “I’m tired and I have nothing to say.”  After I get past that initial barrier, though, the words start to flow and I get into this place where I forget that I was tired and I didn’t want to do this; I remember how happy I am to be writing.

So here’s to rediscovering something I truly enjoy, and reminding myself that I have ample time in my life to enjoy it.  When I’m done with this challenge, I may not post every day (there’s a part of me that feels so sad saying that!), but I want to keep this commitment to myself and my renewed habit.

Grinding it out

Ugh.  This is another one of those days where I am:

  1. Posting just to post.
  2. Posting late.

If I define “day” pretty flexibly as from whenever I wake up to whenever I go to sleep, then technically, I have been posting every day.  Most of them have even been substantive and thoughtful.  Today isn’t one of those, and it has me asking myself again what the point of this challenge is.

Continue reading “Grinding it out”