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The writing trap

All I think about is writing from the moment I open my eyes in the morning all through the day until the sun goes down, and I'm floating in that fuzzy place where my last lucid thought flutters away on paper wings.

And that's where God or Karma or the Devil cues my children to burst through the door and jump on the family bed screaming "WAKE UP MOMMY! WE LOVE YOU!"

Writing any more is a luxury. I have to choose it over life-saving medical procedures -- or a man screaming with a bomb strapped around his middle and a gun "write and die." This of course is the reason that so many writers are unattached shut-ins -- because everything with a pulse that shares space with you will compete for your time, and something will always need doing in the hour you schedule for writing.

The writing trap: Here's what happens

I have this panic alarm built in -- all writers do -- to jolt me when I'm not producing enough quality material. Then I tag every spare moment I have for writing -- even moments I know will be useless -- and I'll sit in one place spinning my wheels for 20 minutes at a time or however long the gaps are between my daughter's pleas at the door -- "We want you to play with us." 

I see time as a ticker tape getting away from me and I hunker down in a nervous panic like the hour hand is going 1,000 revs a second -- it's my final chance to get the words on paper; I'll be dead soon.

I know it's a trap -- that I'm giving into a frenzy of fear and resentment that will fight me every word of the way -- but I fall for it every time.

No, I can't eat dinner; I have to write. No, I can't read a book; I have to write ... I have to write ... and before I know it I've exiled myself to a dark frigid room -- my babies are sleeping, I've accomplished nothing, and life has passed me by. I trick myself into this mindset that ignoring life -- the only real source of inspiration -- will somehow reward we with pages of perfectly organized text. IT'S A TRAP.

There's a fine balance -- and responsibilities to family and work makes it all the more challenging to chisel out what I consider an adequate chunk of time for writing. Somewhere between staring zombie-like at a blank screen or a blinking cursor for hours on end; and making due with the little bits of time I get in a given day; there's a sweet spot. I haven't found it yet, but I know it exists.

Acceptance I think is the key. If I can simply accept that some days aren't meant for writing -- they're meant for living and enjoying the people who exist outside of my brain -- life will feel like less of a train wreck.

The world won't explode if I go two or three days without writing something -- BELIEVING is the challenge.


  1. I agree, no need to stress ourselves to write (if it's not our job). Sometimes the words flow easily when the pressure's off. Thanks for sharing your feelings.

  2. So eloquently put! No matter what, there never seems to be enough time, and I can never make enough progress to satisfy myself. I've tried setting goals, small achievable word counts and that helps-as long as the word count goals don't increase each time I reach them!
    But I have noticed that sometimes after a few days of not much writing, the scenes and stories in my head seem all the more urgent and vivid.
    Some days aren't meant for writing. I'll keep that one in mind. :)

  3. How ironic....I run to my computer to read the latest chapter of your blog never imagining how much undiluted effort it takes to produce. I enjoy each time!!

  4. "I'll sit in one place spinning my wheels for 20 minutes at a time." Haha, I've seen that look while we are in mid conversation-cak


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