I'll go through spurts of wonderful regularity, followed by months of inactivity. I have added chunks of time to my calendar, made writer "playdates," set alarms. Last week, I realized that I have been writing consistently at least once a week for a while now. The answer: coffee.
Lately, on one of my days off, I'll venture down to my favorite coffee shop, owned by a friend of mine. Bobby will make me a drink, laden with house-made lemon vanilla syrup and garnished with a curve of lemon zest in the bottom of the cup. I'll grab a sandwich, and maybe a muffin, sit down at a table made of glossy reclaimed wood, and write.
I've written blog posts, started my book, made lists. There is something about leaving my environment behind for a while, and all the unfinished projects that go with that environment, and going somewhere else. Here, my only responsibility is to string words together.
When I was in college, writing was not something I could do when I felt like it, it was convenient, or I was inspired. In fact, often, none of those things were in place. I would be up until 4AM writing a story because it needed to be done. I had a deadline. I made time.
These days, I don't have professors giving me assignments anymore (although I do have an editor doing so on occasion). The great majority of my writing is being done because I think it needs to be done, not because someone else told me to do it. If I don't write it, the world won't end, I expect, but I will know. I have stories inside of me which aren't just intended to bear fruit in me. It is hard, often, to be honest and lay myself bare before a wide audience (or even just a good friend), but it is what is asked of me.
Very slowly, and with very little intentionality, I'm afraid, I have built a writing practice. Once a week, I make my way to Indaba, pull out my computer and get to work.
I've noticed that when I do this, it gives me momentum for the week. Suddenly I'll find myself starting a blog post before work, finishing it when I get home, or writing an essay in my head on my way somewhere and having to write down the idea quickly when I arrive.
Apparently, I will write for coffee.
This is a season, perhaps, but it is one that I treasure.