On those three nights or so I glue myself to the chair to write, I commit to putting in the time. I literally set a timer for 15 minutes knowing that whatever happens there will be a cheery musical symphony announcing my liberation.
I remind myself that it’s just about showing up. I don’t have to write marvelous scenes or concoct exotic sentences. There’s no set topic and no commitment to writing a blog post. All I have to do is keep that pen moving across the page.
Lately, I’ve been asking myself: why isn’t this process working? Why am I at such a loss for inspiration? Why for the first time I can remember do I feel like I have nothing interesting to say?
Yesterday, I started thinking about some of my other passions – my workouts and the countless hours I spend with my pit bull companion. Sure, my workouts like my writing are usually time (or mile) bound. But when have I ever showed up saying I’ll be here for the duration but I’m not going to push myself to work hard? Never. I show up when my legs feel like concrete, when my workout is postponed to after 9 p.m. and even when I’m simply exhausted but give it everything I got.
And on those occasions when I set a timer for Elliot’s morning playtime so I can make it to work on time, when have I ever just said I just need to toss the ball for 10 minutes? Never. I give him all of my energy and enthusiasm, shouting “wild and crazy bully” and “torro, puppy, torro” chasing him around the yard before my coffee has fully kicked in.
My relationship with my writing needs to be the same. It’s time to stop taking the “just show up” mantra to the extreme, using it as proof that I’m trying while dodging the story that creeps into my pages every week.
It’s time to lightly sketch out a path forward and actually show up with the genuine intention to create, rather than cleverly writing to avoid it.