This week I started writing as a discipline. Every once in a while, I feel the need to schedule and collect my fragmented life, to gather the pieces of time that have flown away somewhere, and try to put them together. I was a creative writing major in college, I had been making up stuff since I was little, and now I’m a college graduate, I own a small business, I have a job and I, perhaps most drastically, teach writing. Where do I find time to write?
I sometimes find myself thinking longingly of the days before all of this, when I was in high school and didn’t have homework (or work) on the weekends. Then, getting inspired was part of the writing process, now, it’s a luxury, a far-off dream that got lost somewhere between workshop assignments and resume building.
The answer, for me, is discipline.
I went to my brightly colored iCal calendar and chose an hour, one hour to repeat as an event every week. As soon as I saved the event, I was scared. The hour came. I really felt like taking a nap, checking my email and doodling small flowers on countless pieces of paper. I did not feel like writing.
I turned off my wireless connection, removed paper and writing utensils far from me and stayed upright. I’ve been working on a story for a little while, which, in reality, means that I got a good idea for a story, felt inspired and started writing it, about a month ago. It also means that I have not looked at it since. (But I’m working on it).
This time, I opened it, read it over and started writing from where I left off that day I started it. I got tired and looked at the clock on my computer. Less than 15 minutes had passed, more than 45 to go. I pressed on. I started to enjoy the process a little bit, it had been a while and it was nice to put one word in front of another, try to find a clever and non-cliche way to get my point across, to hear the satisfying sound of my keyboard being pressed downward into submission. Ten more minutes passed. I eked words out, sometimes looking into space or taking a drink of water. I pep talked myself, urging myself to keep going because I’m a writer. Really.
Finally, I made it to 45 minutes. I could. not. write. another. word.
I opened a blank document and wrote a poem. It was a silly poem about a telemarketer, or, more specifically, about someone who is always being called by a telemarketer. I smiled a little as I wrote it.
When I was finished with the poem, I was faced with 4 minutes left in the hour. I decided to call it a day. After all, it was my first time with this new discipline. I think it’s going to take some getting used to.