Monday, February 4, 2019

Writing Habits

My January writing stats - I got a sticker for every day I wrote 2 pages.

In undergrad and grad school, I studied creative writing and wrote all the time. I'd get writer's block for sure, but often it was not being able to finish a story as opposed to not being able to start anything.

I wrote a lot the years I freelanced and traveled; I kept detailed journals but was also inspired to write fiction. Once I settled down, I woke up early every morning to walk three miles and then come home to write three pages before work.

All of that changed when I had a baby. I still wrote, but it was sporadic. Of course it didn't make things easier that I started my Masters of Library Science a week before my son was born! Most of my writing was book reviews and research papers - still enjoyable, but not too creative and not on a routine, like I used to have.

Even as my son grew older and more independent, I still struggled to write. I struggled to find the time and the energy. The silence the let my own thoughts have a voice. Not that I had any ideas to explore. My brain seemed incapable of doing anything more than writing To Do lists and budgeting money. Great qualities when you're head of the household, but not much fun, creatively.

I tried so hard to find the right creative outlet, because I was sure there were still stories inside me, somewhere. I turned back to photography, which I've always loved and has always inspired me. I tried making miniatures out of clay. I tried to launch podcasts with different formats, none of which felt right. I tried to lessen the creative pressure on myself by coloring in coloring books. Nothing helped the stories come back to me.

Last spring I pushed myself to write a poem a day. It didn't last too long, because I started with haikus just to "get it over with", and then didn't hold myself to the routine. But it still sparked something inside me. When I was making New Years Resolutions for 2019, I knew writing had to take priority. I set the goal of completing one writing prompt a week, then started mining my brain for words, phrases, concepts, ANYTHING that could be used as a writing prompt.

I have a list of prompts in a notebook. I completed one, the first week of the new year. I started another the second week, but haven't yet finished it. It turned out to be more of a novella than a short story, so I wanted to dedicate time to it. What I found, though, was that the routine benefits me more than the goal of writing some-finished-thing.

My resolution has since informally morphed to "write two pages a day". I would still like to finish a handful of short stories this year, but I'm currently more focused on establishing the routine than creating something quality every week.

In January, I wrote 28 days out of 31. I've noticed that waking up earlier helps with my creativity (I woke up early every day I wrote my first short story of 2019) and doesn't give me a chance to put off writing for the day. My goal for February is to wake up early every weekday and write, so I can't use the "I'm tired" excuse when I get home from work.

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