I’ve actually done a lot of writing this week. Which, sadly, has not been the norm. But I’m getting back into a flow, have found a critique group that I’m excited about, and joined Scribophile. Thanks to those who offered ideas based on my last post, Finding a Sounding Board. This interweb crap is cool that way!
Part of what has enabled me to get moving again has been to lose the belief (or walk slightly further away from the belief) that the planets must be aligned perfectly for me to write. Previously, and for most of my life, I’d believed that all circumstances must be ideal for me to be able to get into my “zone” and create something. I needed an empty house. I needed silence. I needed the right chair, my slippers. I needed my coffee and it had to be morning, I thought. I just couldn’t be productive in the afternoon or evening. I could not be interrupted, and definitely could not have children around. I had to be at MY desk in MY office and that was that. And then, only then, might the writing gods deign to visit me with some sort of creative inspiration.
When I attended the Writers Digest Conference in NYC this January, I found that I had a lot of company in my belief that good writing came from a place of perfectly arranged physical circumstances. There were those who wrote late at night, with a glass of scotch. There were those who could not write without specific music. And there were those who could only write with a certain pen, in long hand (who, honestly, left me completely flabbergasted.)
What I have come to realize about all these needs, all the arrangements that we writers argue that we must have, is that they are all (mostly) crap. They are a set of excuses that allow us NOT to write. They are part of the fear of actually having to DO the thing we talk about doing. In my complete lack of time these days, which has become totally overshadowed by realizations of my own mortality and driving obsession with finally DOING something, I have come to find that I can actually write just about anywhere. Under almost any circumstances. In fact, I’ve come to like dropping down into the “zone” for a few brief minutes when I can find them, wherever they may happen. True, I do need a computer, since I cannot actually read my own handwriting. But aside from that, the rest of my requirements are ridiculous.
Writers, I think, like to believe that there is some magic in what we do. There is some mysticism that lets us accomplish what others, evidently, cannot. And writing, of course, cannot be as simple as sitting down and writing. There must be far more to it in order to discourage the dilettante masses from making an attempt to encroach on our sacred territory. So we create boundaries and restrictions upon ourselves and others, limiting the conditions under which greatness might be achieved.
I may not be the most accomplished writer. But I’ve come to believe that it’s all crap. Cut it out, guys. If you’re going to write, it isn’t going take the next solar eclipse to make it happen. It has nothing to do with moon phases or the perfect cup of coffee. It’s in you. Just sit down and do it.
— UPDATE —
Was just reading this over, and cannot call this post complete without linking to one of my VERY favorite songs, which I have herein reminded myself of by saying something like “Conditions must be perfect,” which is a line from this song (almost). If you are not familiar with Flight of the Conchords, you must get familiar. They are frickin’ hilarious. Here, as an introduction, I present their amazing song — perhaps hitting a bit too close to home: “Business Time.” Watch this only when conditions are perfect… perhaps on a Wednesday…