Its halfway through October, the leaves are a beautiful array of yellow, orange and red, though there is not quite enough red for my liking. One thing I did not expect is for the weather to still be so absolutely wonderful. The grass is still green, temperature above 70 degrees, and I am still growing vegetables in my garden in the mountains of Montana, and they're not in a green house.
Broccoli and Swiss Chard should be things of months past. My chives, onions, carrots, potatoes and garlic should have been harvested long ago to keep from being frozen in the ground, and yet they are still growing and I am harvesting and gathering. For me, this is a huge blessing because otherwise, I would have lost a lot of it since I do not have a lot of time for harvesting. I've been able to do a little bit at a time.
But I fear this will soon be changing.
A good thing can't last forever, and it will turn frigid soon. But with the cold comes many new opportunities for joy in a different way. Though I love warm weather, I love to be able to be bundled up in a cozy blanket, watching a good movie with my hubby, or snuggled next to my boys reading a good book, or turning my thoughts to the joys of Thanksgiving and magic of Christmas.
I also enjoy this coming season for the downtime. Yes, it still has its busyness, but it is far less busy because there is no yard work, or garden, or summer getaway plans, or training for races. I look forward to my time to write. This is my season for progress, for getting those thoughts and stories out of my head and onto paper where I can reach others. To reach you, and to see your enjoyment.
Here's to many thousands of words to come this season. :-)
Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. I want to know what inspires you. What drives you to write or do what you do?
We've heard many times, 'Write what you know.' This is essentially the same question.
For example, many aspects in my soon to be published book, Honorable Disgrace, are based on things I have first hand knowledge of. I lifted weights in high school and loved the feeling of power and strength I got from it. The confidence it gave me. But I also had the misfortune to experience a deep betrayal from my older sister. She was suppose to look out for me, keep me from harm and show me a good example. She did not. I have since forgiven her for her stupid lack of judgement, but it doesn't change what resulted because of it. A rape that stripped away my strength and sent me into a self-loathing state.
But what you write doesn't have to come directly from what you've had experience with. It can come from a deep interest you may have in something. A time period in history, a different culture, nature, sports, etc.
I’m going to make a bold statement. Writer’s write. Right? But who has time? We are all busy, all in different stages of our lives and all with interests that pull us in so many different directions. So how do we get the time to write?
We have to make it.
Writing, for me, is like running. A part of me wants to do it, thinks about it, yearns for that blank page or wide open road, even anticipates it. But another part of me hates it. Because it is hard, and it is exercise and it is work. Sometimes a lot of work. I also hate it because I am forced to realize my weaknesses. Do any of you run? Well, if so, than you know after the initial hurdle of getting started, it is fantastic and I always wonder why I fought it.
And the more often I run, or write for that matter, the easier it is to get to it and I find myself anxious to return to it.
But it is way too easy to make excuses. And the biggest excuse I hear, and the one I am most guilty of is, “I don’t have time.” But you will never be a writer unless you write.
So, now I ask you, who has a schedule for their writing? Are you consistent with it? Do you have a daily/weekly goal? All of this matters.
A friend of mine lent me a copy of Stephen King’s book On Writing. I think Stephen King wrote this book for me. He understands me, he gets me. I see a lot of similarities in his writing style and mine. By writing style, I mean his process. I, by no means, think I am anywhere near his caliber, but he makes many valid. Simple points, which all of us probably know, but because of their simplicity, and sometimes the bluntness with which he puts things, it is very impressionable.
Okay, so we know we need to write, we need to make time, we need to have a goal. What should our goal be? Well, for each one of us, it will be different and that’s okay. King talks about a story concerning James Joyce. A friend came to visit Joyce one day and found him sprawled over his desk in complete despair. “What’s wrong,” asks his friend, “Is it the work?” Joyce made a gesture of assent. His friend then asked, “How many words did you get today?” Still upset, Joyce replied “Seven.” His friend, “Well that’s good… at least for you!” “Yes,” Joyce cried, “But I don’t know what order they go in.”
While this is a funny tidbit about James Joyce, it is very telling. Whether you only get in a smattering of words a day or you get in thousands of words, you are writing. Therefore you are a writer, and worthy of the name. No matter how big the project is, its finished one word at a time.
King’s own writing schedule is simple – Mornings are for writing, usually new work. When he is working on a project, he doesn't stop or slow down unless he has to. He doesn't want his characters to become stale, to become just a character on the page instead of the real people they are in his head. Makes sense. Afternoons are devoted to naps and letters. Evenings reading, family time, TV and any revisions that can’t wait. Don’t we all wish we could have a schedule like that?
Unfortunately, most of us can’t.
The best most of us can do is find a place where you have a door you can close to let others know, i.e. your children and/or your spouse, it is your time and please don’t disturb. My desk is out in the open so I don’t have the luxury of a door, so I do one of two things in the hopes of having uninterrupted writing time. I write in the evening after my children are in bed. I'd love to wake up early in the morning and get to my writing, but I am not a morning person and I am far too sleepy to accomplish any real headway. The other thing I do is put on headphones and listen to my writing music playlist. It helps to let others know when my headphones are on, they should try to limit the interruptions. You should not try to write somewhere public, like on a picnic bench, or a coffee shop or even by the side of tranquil river. I tried that this weekend. Too many distractions, even with the peaceful surroundings of nature.
Sometimes it is a struggle to get the words to flow, but if you have scheduled yourself time to write and you have set up your space, the muse will find you. Eventually.
Stephanie N. Pitman, Author
The written word is magical...
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