The young woman standing next to me in the coffee line at church was a gifted writer. She’d done a reading of her poetry several months before, and I’d been blown away by the lyricism and elegance of her work. At the reading, she’d talked about how much she was enjoying getting back to writing. Her excitement at rediscovering this passion was palpable.
But that day, in response to my inquiry about her writing, a sad look crossed her face as she told me, “I haven’t written anything in months—my job, my kids, my dad’s illness—it’s all been too distracting. I haven’t been in a place where I could do anything creative.”
I nodded sympathetically, thinking to myself, Been there, done that. There have been days and weeks that I’ve let my writing slip away—great wads of time when I’ve felt overwhelmed by family crises, student papers, and a “to do” list that never gets shorter.
Yesterday, for example, I came close to not writing, despite having carefully penciled into my planner several hours to work on my new novel. I was feeling so anxious about my list of what I needed to do for my upcoming book signing, and everything else I wanted to get done before the official release of IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU at the end of the month. And then there was my sister’s birthday and the work to review before my next Sisters in Crime meeting. Maybe I should just get all this stuff done, I thought, and then I’ll be able to write.
But here’s the thing. There’s always something else to do, something other than writing.
So, I made myself open the file with the new work. Can you guess what happened? Within minutes, I was fine. I was working! Not that the words came easily, but you know, they came.
Sometimes, the only way to stave off the distractions of everyday life, not to mention the anxiety and self-doubts that hover, is to begin.
I’ve had to accept that at least for me, there’s never a good time to write. The only solution is to get started and do it anyway.