Initially, when I was thinking of writing here, I thought this would be a column where I would sometimes talk about grammar or finding your voice or where to submit. But truly that is not what has kept me from writing. What has kept me from writing is something far less practical. So that is what I keep returning to in every column. If you are in your 40s especially (or older or younger, even!) and you haven’t taken your writing seriously as of yet, the odds are good that it is not because you are unsure of grammar or because you don’t know where to submit. It is something else, something inside of you, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because of how much easier it is to review various journals’ submission requirements or brush up on grammar than to really face your inner critic, that dismissive voice inside as well as the coping strategies you’ve developed over the year to avoid that voice which can hinder more than they can help sometimes. It just seems too much so it is easier to just not write. So, you don’t. It is always, “Well, sometime in the future maybe..”
Well, we are now in the future. It is 2021. If Prince’s “1999” still sounds fresh and exciting even though 1999 was 22 years ago, then 2021 is very much the future. And a la Mary Oliver, what *are* you going to do? I don’t mean resolutions, though if that works for you in some way–be it in smaller chunks, the negative route (collecting 100 rejections, etc.), how you want to feel (subordinate and superordinate goals, etc.)–go for it. Goal-setting is a great tool and for some, the big yearly resolutions are a great way to set them. But I mean more like using that perspective you have earned after decades on this planet and being realistic about what you want to do with this life of yours. Do you want writing to be included in it? Do you really? Then you must start and you must sustain. It is that simple and you already know it, really. One tip that I have recently realized is that it doesn’t have to be big. Big gestures and efforts can be wonderful but often fizzle out. Much better to do just a few minutes a day, 15 minutes three times a week, whatever, and then grow from there. Also, if you stop for a day, for a week, it doesn’t mean it was all for naught or that you have Failed with a capital F. Leave the drama be and just brush yourself off and get back up on that horse. Lastly, you don’t need some big or perfect idea. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike, but just get the muscles and gears moving and you will surprise yourself.
I hope this is the push you needed to pick up that pen or open that Scrivener document. You know you won’t regret it once you start, so go ahead. I’ll join you. Let’s write.