This post has been sitting around in my drafts folder since April 14. I've come back to it a few times to polish it up and I've finally decided it's time to share it here. Whether you are a writer or someone trying to make time for something else, I hope this post inspires you to stick with it!
The writing life has a huge appeal to some people. The thing about writing is that it takes time. You have to sift through your ideas. You have to give your undivided attention to the task of arranging and rearranging words until an idea turns into something that can be passed around. No piece is ever truly finished even though you always have to make the call to move on and work on something else at some point.
I get the most joy out of finishing a first draft. I know it's good if it leaves me feeling a little breathless. The panic doesn't set in until after the final round of edits happen and I turn it over for someone else to read. All of a sudden, it doesn't seem good enough. I wonder what they'll think of my work and of me and if handing it over was really such a good idea after all. Which is ridiculous. The very point of writing is that people will take what you've written and enjoy it in their own way.
In a lot of ways, it seems as though my time in this town has made me a writer. I've used the time and routine that life here has granted me to push myself as a writer. To put myself out there. To hand my work over. To welcome people who know me in real life to this space (and to not be totally weirded out when they find their way here on their own).
There's a man from church that referred to me as "the writer" for the longest time. I didn't know how to feel about it at first, but then I realized that there was nothing wrong with that title. Last summer, I was out with my brother one day and a guy that was looking to hire him, turned to me and asked if I was a writer. I still have no idea what prompted that question, but for some reason, he asked it and I fumbled with just how to answer him. Back in February, I found out that someone I'd known of for quite a while is a writer. After I asked him about it, he didn't miss a beat before asking me if I write.
Writing has been a big part of my life ever since I can remember. It was something I did, but that I tended to keep to myself. It's a solitary activity. Something that you don't assume people will understand. Somehow I never gave it up. I kept at it. I didn't let my own doubts or fears choke it out. If I'm honest, writing isn't something that I decide to do, it's basically something that I must do. It's part of who I am.
I read about people's writing routines and how they make time to write and I feel foolish sometimes. There's the woman who pays someone to keep her children for two 3 hour chunks each week so that she can go write. There is Marina and her resolve to write for 12 hours each week during what would have otherwise been spent on a club that she didn't get into. And then there is me. I spend a fair amount of time writing. I have a notebook that I take with me when I have an idea in my head and expect to have some time to get it down on paper.
If I'm honest, I think about these years that God has granted me and I want to be able to look back on them knowing that I used them well. I want to make replacements of my own. I want to set aside time to write and I want to USE it.
The writing life appeals to people who know what it is to BE writers. They have teachers and friends and people telling them that they have to write and they know it's true. My friend Jeremiah said something the other day that I haven't been able to shake...He said that it's so easy to write and yet even easier not to. And he's right. When you're a writer, the words come. Give yourself a quiet hour and a piece of paper or a Word document and you'll be able to crank out 1500 or even 2000 words on ANY given subject. They may be junk, but they'll come. For people who write, writing is easy. Creativity feeds on creativity. Inspiration will come in the shower, at a stop light, in the grocery store, in the garden, and sometimes even in your sleep.
But, Jeremiah is right. It's even easier not to write. To let the days turn into weeks where you don't get anything down or where you don't go back to what you wrote in order to turn it into something better. To keep what you've written to yourself and to let it die in a dusty old notebook or some forgotten folder on your computer. It's easier to come up with excuses of things that you could or should be doing instead of writing than it is to set aside time to write and to discipline yourself to make the most of that time.
Here I am...With all kinds of spare moments to work on a novel or on essays that I could submit to contests and literary magazines. With something that is some kind of gift. With the opportunity to be the writer that God seems to have made me to be. I don't always know what kinds of words I should put down or what kinds of stories I should tell. Here's to making the time and using the time and doing what it is we've been put here to do. Whatever it is, we can't take the easy way out. We've got work to do.
What's the thing that you are called to put time into?