I write every day. That’s my process.
When I don’t write: I descend to a low version of myself. I don’t like that person. I don’t like being that person. I don’t like what that person has to say and what they think about the world. So, tell me, if you could write instead of becoming someone you hate, why wouldn’t you? Each day I write to not think about, talk to or be that person for one more minute of my life.
I’ve been him for too many minutes already. No more.
I finally figured it out about sixteen years ago. In part because of a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and because I’d reached a point where something had to change. As is often the case, in my experience, when you decide to change and want to change and are looking for opportunities to change, then an opportunity will present itself. All you have to do is take one.
I started a daily practice of writing. I’m a better person for doing it. Sometimes I’ve worked to word counts, sometimes to completed pages. The discipline of writing every day takes practice. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve missed the odd day, week or month. But, sooner or later, I start to feel the lack. I become someone I hate.
So I have to write.
I’m currently on a solid 1443 streak of writing every day. Turn up, put an X on the tally and carry on.
Before that? I don’t know. I have no idea why it took me so long to figure it out. Before, I would only write when inspiration struck, when the pressure built enough of a head of steam that it had to be released before something exploded. I used that steam to catapult me away and leave that shadow version of myself behind. I was good at finding things to distract myself and engage my imagination by consuming rather than creating. I kept ahead. Barely.
My writing was, for a long time, just for me. Yeah, I had sent out and had published a few things here and there, but that was secondary, nice but secondary.
Then, for purely selfish reasons, I started publishing my work on my websites. Those stories were taking up a lot of valuable real estate in my head and on my hard drive. They were sitting in lists and electronic folders doing nothing. Each one, even though ostensively finished, was a drain on my attention and my imagination. They grew heavy, and ironically, all those words I had written to save me pulled me down to a place I didn’t want to go.
I needed to get rid of them, close the door on them, in a way that I controlled. Publishing each piece myself was my way of doing that. And it’s working. I can call them done and move on to the next project, the next idea, and not have any mental resources paying attention to each loose thread attached to a completed story.
I’m cutting those threads loose, one by one, and I’m already feeling lighter.