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 what that person has to say and what they think about the world. 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 also because I’d reached a point where something had to change. As is often the case, when you decide to change and want to change and are looking for opportunities to change, then change will present itself. All you have to do is change.
I started a daily practice of writing. I’m a better person for doing it. Sometimes I’ve worked to word counts, sometimes to complete pages. The discipline of writing every day takes practice. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve missed the odd day, week or month. Eventually, I felt the lack. I become someone I hate.
That’s why I have to write.
I’m just shy of a two thousand day streak of writing every day. Turn up, put an X on the tally and carry on.
I don’t know why it took me so long to figure 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. But I used that steam to propel me forward to leave that shadow version of myself behind. Distracting myself was easy. I would 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 I started publishing my work on my websites. Those stories were taking up a lot of valuable real estate and bandwidth in my head and on my hard drive. They were clogging up the flow. They were sitting in lists and electronic folders doing nothing. Each one, even though finished, was a drain on my attention and my imagination. The unused words grew heavy, and what I had written to save me instead 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 feel lighter.