It might be easy to think that writing is just about waking up to birds singing sweetly outside your window, grabbing a cup of organic coffee, reading the paper, and then sitting down in a pristine, perfectly decorated office and writing. Dreamy, really.
Sometimes it can seem easier to do absolutely anything other than what you know you need to be doing. Most of us have probably been at the “I have a project due” and “Boy, do I love cleaning toilets” corner once or twice.
Sometimes when I am putting off writing, it’s because I’m just stalling. But I actually think that there may be some method in the madness.
We have very full lives and minds.
There is a lot going on in this modern world. I find that I am regularly juggling emails, projects, work, cleaning, business paperwork, exercise, feeding myself, making sure to check in with people, travel plans, and everything else that gets thrown in to a busy life. You have your own list, and I’m sure it’s quite full as well. All of those things hang out in our heads, reminding us to make sure we don’t miss paying bills on time, getting to doctor’s appointments, picking up kiddos from school, or meeting a friend for a much needed coffee.
But if you’ve ever tried to write or do serious creative work and thinking while all the things you need to do are swirling up in your brain, then you know that it can be very hard to even hear yourself think.
So what is a writer (or really any creative) to do?
You wouldn’t try to cook without a kitchen or the ingredients you need for a meal, and you wouldn’t train for a marathon without good shoes.
And I don’t think you should try to write without getting ready either.
You will never have everything done
and a perfect moment to sit down and write.
Just in case that’s what you are waiting for to get started writing, let me say that again…
You will never have everything done.
Writing is not about having nothing else going on, but it is an endeavor worth taking seriously enough to prepare for.
What are the things on your list that are nagging at your brain that you could easily finish?
Could you get those done in predictable set amount of time and then have time to write?
If so, get the nagging things off your plate first.
What other steps could you take to create a calm thinking space?
For me, I have a tendency to pile up documents on my desktop until they are six deep, messy, and completely impossible to see and use. There is never a deadline for cleaning these up, but at some point, the mess gets so bad that it begins to bug me, and I want it clean.
If that desktop is bothering me to the point that I am thinking about it, then it might be worth taking some time to pick it up.
This is not time taken away from writing.
This is time spent creating a space and life to be a writer.
What are the things that you can actively and intentionally shelve?
Like I said before, you will always have things to do, but some are nagging and disruptive and others are all in a day’s work.
- Make a list of the swirling to-dos in your head.
- Read over them and come to peace with knowing that you have a list and you can reference it instead of keeping it all in your head.
- Decide to let the list hold the busy space for you while you write.
This requires intention, and along those lines, perhaps it is helpful to be realistic and realize that you cannot pop a cone of silence over your head and your brain. New things may come to mind as you write, but keep your list handy and jot the things down, knowing that the list is there for you.
There is no doubt that physical space is another important part of getting ready to write which I will address later, but creating open mental spaces to think expansive, uncluttered thoughts is a good first step.
Now…off to clean my desktop.