“Make writing your practice . . . If you commit to it, it will take you deeper than Zen.” -Katagiri-roshi
Back in May, I made a point of Mini Art Month, where I challenged myself to make some form of art (no matter how small) every day. I was having problems with facing the page (aka FEAR), so in typical fashion, I procrastinated. “I can get to that later. I’ll have time this afternoon. Or this evening. No problem!” However, even with the best of intentions, I wouldn’t get to it: I was too tired, too hungry, too bothered by kitchen disaster that called for FEMA (or at least a Haz Mat team), too distracted (Ooh! Mail!).
Since procrastination had not exactly been working as a fantastic productivity technique, I came up with a monthly challenge. The end result: I discovered that writing is my art/practice, that tiny, easily achievable goals are helpful, and that having a structure (daily practice) is hugely important. I felt like I had taken a good step forward with developing an art habit.
Then November was National Novel Writing Month, and I thought “This will get me writing every day!” And it did, only this time because there was a deadline (50,000 words by Nov. 30) and because there is no way to cram for that metaphorical exam. I finished the novel (and even had my first truly immersive experience in one of my fictional worlds) and felt like I had conquered my writing fears—after all, I blogged it! I was good to go!
Then there were the holidays, and snow, and more snow, and all the chaos that ensues in the Portland metro area when there is snow, and then the New Year, and more snow, and Life happened.
Somewhere in the midst of that, I managed to get the print edition of my forthcoming flash fiction collection finalized, most of the digital edition finished (so close!), finished & edited a novella, and wrote a novelette*. I guess that’s not bad in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve been feeling like I’m just not making any progress, and I have definitely not been writing every day. And since writing is what keeps me somewhat sane (that, and copious amounts of Tension Tamer Tea** and episodes of 1990’s TV comedies), it’s time to deal with that.
Since I apparently can’t retain previously learned lessons, I am making March “Writing Practice Month”. Which means writing*** every day for a minimum of 15 minutes, and the only requirement for success is to sit. At the ‘puter. For 15 minutes. Even if there are no new words written. Just showing up is all that matters.****
With that said, I will sit and post here daily***** (barring acts of Dental Gods, harrumph******).
This seems ridiculous to me, since I do manage to write, have written, and thought I had proved this to myself before. But, as I am slowly coming to understand, this is a neverending War with Fear.
So I say screw the Fear and do it anyway. The benefits way outweigh the doubts and fears.
*Novella = 17,500-40,000 words; Novelette = 7,500-17,500 words. At least according to Wikipedia.
**Celestial Seasonings’ Tension Tamer Tea is a wondrous thing. Truly. It’s the best of the ‘calm down and chill the f@#! out’ teas I’ve tried. And I’ve tried a lot.
***Writing = putting new words down, preferably for a story, but non-fiction is fine, too.
****The first step to make any activity a habit. Gail Sher and a whole host of others recommend it, which is good enough for me.
*****Do or do not; there is no try. I was going to say “try to sit and post here daily” but Yoda’s voice echoes in my head. It starts to grate after awhile.
******Ah, the Dental Gods. At long last they will wreak their havoc with me, but I shall persevere and thrive. Especially with the aid of modern pharmaceuticals.