I’ve heard people say writing saved their life, and while I can’t go that far, I can say that writing has provided stability and sanity in a very unstable world.
Writing helps me feel grounded, even in a strange week like
this one where everything else feels all strange and weird. My husband and son
are out of town and it’s just me up in this thirteenth story apartment, too ill
to really go anywhere, feeling like Rupunzel locked in her tower—though maybe
without the glorious golden locks, or does mid-shoulder black and pink hair
count? Nevertheless, I feel very locked-away-in-a-tower-ish.
But then, when I write, even on days like today where I’m
distracted by All The Internet Things, if I manage to hit my word count, I feel
this nice calm settle over me. I did the work that needed to be done today,
even if everything else seems out of sync and off schedule.
It’s kind of the magic of developing a discipline of
writing. Like any muscle, it’ll get flimsy and out of shape if you don’t
exercise it. I’ve mostly gotten to the place where writing isn’t something I
get up and decide to do everyday.
It’s something I take for granted that I WILL do, come hell or high-water or,
you know, Twitter and Facebook addiction and my normal internal whining about
So tonight, all alone in this empty apartment up in the sky,
I’ve got a smile on my face because I did my second writing session and hit the
2k word count I try to do every day. Officially my required word count each day
is 1k. It’s one of the tricks I use on myself, so that if I only get 1k or only
do one writing session instead of two, I still get to count the day as a win.
When you’ve got this weird amorphous job of being a writer, it’s the little
things that count to make you feel productive.
The trick is to write through anything. Write through
depression. Write through success. Write through heart break. Especially write through failure. Write
through sickness, at least as much as able. Write through books being sold.
Write through waiting on submission to see if more books will sell. Write through
failed books that didn’t end up going anywhere and sit as half-done hundred
page documents that will lay forgotten in some random folder on my computer.
It’s when I stop writing that I get into trouble. I feel
like I can be happy and contented through anything life throws at me, as long
as I can hit that daily word count. Now, none of this is to say that the
writing will be particularly good,
especially if there’s something bad or stressful going on in my life. The idea
of the tortured or depressed artist putting out masterpieces might be all good
well in theory, but it certainly never worked for me. I write best when I’m
stable and happy and my family is in a good place. But you still gotta write,
because that way lies sanity and mental health. Come to think of it, I bet it’s
how Rapunzel stayed sane too. She was probably stuck up there with thousands of
sheets of paper and a magical unending inkpot ;)