Sunday, January 22, 2017

Writing My Way Out

By Jodie Cain Smith

In Hamilton, the Musical, the ensemble accuses Alexander of writing “like he’s running out of time.” I’d give up my Mac to have that ability again.

But, my word count from the last several months is abysmal, practically zero. The husband, as I hem and haw, reminds me of my overly full plate of the last year:  a move across three states, taking on a second and third job, caring for a toddler, blah, blah, blah. To my mind those are all excuses, and I’ve never taken kindly to excuses. The husband’s support keeps our marriage on track but does nothing to fuel my writing.

If I am real with myself, examine my behavior, thoughts, and feelings closely, I know the problems. After all, what writing is any good if it lacks honesty? So, here is my daily dose of get-it-out-there-and-move-on.

Fear.  I fear I am a washout, a two-hit wonder, but will never become one of those writers who crank out brilliance time and again. What if my good ideas are gone?

Lack of inspiration. In the past, I dismissed those writers who wait for inspiration. Powering through was my go-to tactic with every part of my life. I wrote trite blogs packed with naïve methods of pushing past writer’s block. Now, I know I didn’t understand how powerful, how draining blocks could be. I didn’t know that sometimes waiting is the best course of action.

Lack of discipline, fortitude. Not writing proved to be a slippery slope. Armed with my list of excuses, I allowed my writing process to slide away. What used to be a disciplined three-hour per day habit, deteriorated on my own watch, because of my excuses. And, then I added lack of inspiration to that list.

This is where I found myself three weeks ago – looking back at 2016 with the realization I had allowed a year to go by with few words to show for it. I felt defeated, afraid, and fraudulent. I was losing my identity. As a friend of mine posted on Facebook recently, what do you call a writer who doesn’t write? I’ve no idea.

But, I’ve never been adept at accepting defeat. I’m unapologetically competitive, so to Hell with defeat. To paraphrase Hamilton, I will write my way out. The resolve to rebuild my writing life has been a struggle to maintain, but I will maintain it.

To do so, for the past three weeks, I have forced myself to write something, anything creative, everyday, Monday – Friday. It may be only 500 words of pure garbage, but it is on the page. I will decide what to do with those words later. For now, I will peel the Band-Aid of fear and loathing from my skin, bit by bit.

I hung a calendar on the wall near my desk and decided to place a green star on each day I write. Seeing a green streak has given me hope. Maybe good ideas are still there, waiting to be uncovered. I just have to live in my characters worlds long enough to reveal their secrets.

So, for now, I will just write. Through writing, I will re-learn this craft we love. My words will find purpose, and I will find my creative self once again.


Laura Puccia Valtorta said...

It's good to make a schedule for your writing, as you have done. I basically write 3 days per week (weekends plus my day off), and I set aside at least an hour for each writing session. I hope you're writing about your life and what's been happening to you. We miss you, Jodie, even though Columbia II is going along well.

Leigh Stevenson said...

I love your honesty. We have all been there, I suspect. I know I have. A friend of mine recently gave me a sticker which said, "Sit the H--- down and write!" I'm taking your(and her)lead.