It has been a long time since I have written. A really long time. Like since the writing retreat I’d attended last year in September long time. Hell, I’ve barely journaled in that time, and after seeing the massive quantities of paper that I recycled after scanning in my old journals, that is saying something. And you have probably noticed a lack of major activity here on my blog. Another victim of my writing funk.
I am finally at a place where I can look beyond the “I’m not writing” thoughts to get to “Okay, well what do I do to fix that”?
During my funk I would go and look at different writing challenges – mostly flash fiction prompts, and then not do anything about them. I would talk with my friends who were also writers, and tell them that I hadn’t written anything. As guilty as I felt during those check-ins, I had accepted “not writing” as my current state, and so I didn’t do anything. Some of those days were so bad that I backed out of even attending the online meetings, because I couldn’t handle the guilt and I knew that I wasn’t at a place where I could change it (hello depression, so frustrated to see you).
Then with the new year came a plan. In a forum created for participants of an online workshop I had attended (and students of subsequent iterations of the course), the instructor mentioned Steering the Craft by Ursula Le Guin, and how there was a new version, and did anyone else want to do the exercises in it, and report back each week.
This was it, I thought. I read the first chapter, and posted the first exercise two days late, but darn it, I had written, and shared actual words on page.
I was one of two to post. And no one even mentioned week 2. I read the chapter, but didn’t do the exercise.
Fast forward to the end of January. I saw people on Facebook starting to post about A Month of Letters in February. I’ve tried two previous years, and was going to let this one pass, but on February 1st I saw a friend who I had never associated with writing ask for people she could write to. She was my husband’s friend from high school, and I didn’t really know her well, but I wanted to encourage her, so I thought “Why not.”
So I updated my LetterMo profile and wrote my first card that night, failing right off, because I had missed sending anything out the Feb. 1. But I didn’t care. Over the month I have started to hang my hopes that the act of writing cards to friends and strangers would help reconnect me with a daily(ish) writing habit.
And it is working. It isn’t fiction, but I’m writing.
This week I have also resumed listening to some writing podcasts, making an effort to catch up on both I Should Be Writing and Writing Excuses. In the last Writing Excuses case I listened to, the hosts were talking about the momentum of writing, and how it is easier to remain not writing if you are not writing. I think the letters have helped kick me past that initial momentum hurdle.
Today I actually logged in to a different online meeting, designed for people to have a few minutes to chat with each other interspersed with 1/2 hour writing sessions. I was late, and they were in the middle of a session when I logged in, so I did exercise 2 of Steering the Craft. It is currently the second timed writing session, and I have written this blog post, remembering that there are other people besides those on the initial forum where I got the idea that I can use as an accountability stick.
Below I am posting the first two exercises from Steering the Craft. They are not great works, nor are they designed to be. They each focus on a different writing tool or technique, and they are very much homework like. But look, I’ve written!