Many successful writers extol the benefits of writing something every day. Keeps you in form. Keeps the momentum going. Combats inertia. Well, I haven’t written a word since last Tuesday’s entry.
Excuses? Of course I’ve got excuses. The school I was teaching my regular writing program at ended the year early, so Wednesday and Thursday I substitute-taught a 4th grade class I’d never seen before. It was one of those classes. Other teachers, in the break room, kept asking me, with that special note of sympathy, how things were going. The teacher’s aide told me that helping out in this class had decided her against getting her teaching license. Frankly, I’ve seen much worse groups of kids. Still, they left me pretty wiped out by the end of the each day. Then Friday: Gee, what happened Friday? I think I read and napped most of the day. And went for a hike, which I hadn’t done since Monday. And watched a movie. And now it’s Saturday, and I’ve done some yard work, and had my bike ride and my nap, and gone grocery shopping, and read a long chapter in Confesiones de un Chef, and answered emails. So as soon as I get this entry done, I’ll be going straight to work on the novel.
One of the reasons I’ve been keeping this blog going is precisely because it forces me to crank out some sort of completed something every few days. It ain’t always easy, either, especially after I’ve let it slide for a while.
Momentum; that’s the ticket. And not getting distracted. Now that I think about it, I recall what happened to writing time on Friday. I looked up Chuck Jones, one of my heroes, on Wikipedia, and then began wondering if any of the episodes of Road Runner & Coyote that I don’t have on DVD were available online. And it turned out that almost all of them were.
Mr. Jones, in discussing Wile E. Coyote, used to like to quote George Santayana: A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.
What do you call someone who keeps his aim in mind but is too distracted to pursue it?
There’s a short list of things people say when you tell them you’re a writer, and one them, which, come to think of it, I’ve only heard from women, is an enthusiastic ‘Oh! I love to write!’ I really ought to have a standard response to that by now. Instead, I stand there flat-footed while I wonder if my interlocutrix is also into self-flagellation.
Writing is hard. Writing is painful. And at the end of the day there’s so little, sometimes nothing, sometimes less than nothing, to show for it. Fortunately or un, I am into self-flagellation. But it’s easier to bear if you do it every day. So I’m going to get to work now. Really.