I’ve been ruthless this week, in a way that feels quite alien to me. I’ve shelved so many jobs in order to stick to my goal of writing two (yes, just two) pages of my notebook every day. The things I’ve put to one side include reading (poetry and prose, weekend supplements) making art/ collages, cleaning the bathroom, weeding the garden (although the weather was against me on this week). Still, you get the picture. What’s interesting is that because my target is quite low, in terms of word count, I’ve exceeded it nearly every day. This has been really positive. It’s given me that ‘Can do’ feeling, and made me keen to carry on, so much so that yesterday I treated myself to a new notebook, in anticipation of finishing the current one. I’ve stuck to A5 so I can keep the momentum – there’s something about turning the page that makes me feel I’m being more productive.
Writing is important to me, and I’ve said for a while now that I’ve embraced distractions as a way of feeding the work, but the bottom line is, if you’re not setting aside time to do the work, then anything you’ve gleaned from these distractions isn’t being given a fair chance to flourish into something new on the page. So, instead of finding excuses (or allowing the distractions to take over) I’m concentrating on finding ways to fit my writing into what seems, at times, an impossibly short day.
Of course, I realise that there will be some weeks where I can’t be as productive as I’ve been this week. Natalie Goldberg suggests this:
Make a writing schedule for the week and stick to it. Be realistic. “Okay, this is a hard week. I’ll only write twice for fifteen minutes …”
Each week for a full month, make a schedule and see how it goes …
Even if your writing isn’t completely present during these sessions, it cuts through a lot of anxiety and neuroses finally just to do it.’ (Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind: living the writer’s life, Rider, 1991)
With this in mind, I’m already planning ahead, putting gaps in my writing calendar where we’re out for the evening or away for the weekend. I feel nervous about doing this for a month though, because what if I don’t stick to it? What if I let myself down?
I suppose there will always be this tension, and in a way there needs to be in order to create anything worthwhile.
By the way, in case you were wondering, Zig Ziglar was a salesman, not an artist, but he made his name as a motivational speaker. So, find a way to do your writing this week. No excuses!