Sunday, August 17, 2014

About Writing #1 - The 'Write Every Day' Rule

Today, I’m starting a new series of blog posts about writing as an indie: my process, what I’ve learned, what I’m still struggling with. If even a tiny bit of it is helpful to someone, then it’ll be worth it!

This first post is about one piece of advice that’s often repeated by how-to books and writing teachers: Write Every Day, and my experience with that rule.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while but have been hesitating a lot. These are private and painful things I mean to talk about, and putting them out there is a little scary.

What’s private and painful about this rule or advice, you wonder. Well, it’s not so much the rule as the reason why I haven’t been following it.

I used to write every day. It was downright impossible for me not to. I always had ideas swirling in my mind and I needed to put them down into words. I still need that today, but you may have noticed that the frequency of my new releases has decreased. I don’t write as much or as often as I used to not because I don’t believe in the ‘Write Every Day’ rule, not because I’ve lost my desire to write or lack the time, but because my mind, for the past few years, has been on other things.

Since 2009, Dear Hubby and I have been trying to grow our family. We thought it’d go fast and we were already talking about names. After a year of trying, I finally had a positive test. It turned out to be an ectopic pregnancy. After the pain and disappointment had faded, we started trying again, now with the counsel of a specialist. When another year passed with no result, we were sent to do a DNA analysis and we learned that, because of a chromosome issue, our fertility is decreased, and even if we conceive naturally the odds are great that I’d suffer a miscarriage. That’s what happened in 2012. Since 2013, we’ve been going through several cycles of IVF, the last one being only a few days ago and for which we’re still waiting and hoping for a positive result. And it will be the last one, whatever the result, at least for a long while. We’re fortunate enough to have good insurance coverage, but the drugs and testing have taken a great toll on what savings we had and we simply can't afford to keep going.

Hard to write with all that going on, with the stress of it, the depression of loss, with the worry about money, the fear that we’ll never become parents this way, the questions about what we will do then. But even when things are hard people still need to go to work, and 'writer' is what I've chosen to put as my profession on my tax forms, and I just have to keep up even when I'm not in themood.

To keep myself writing, I've been giving myself daily goals, tracked it all in spreadsheets, analyzed daily, weekly, monthly averages, color coded good days and bad, charted trends, and basically used every function I ever learned in Excel.

Did it all help?

Frankly, no.

It's information, and it lets me know how I'm doing, but it doesn't force me to write more or more regularly. And it’s a vicious circle, too. Because I’ve had trouble writing and have missed deadlines, because I’ve had more bad days than good ones, I’ve lost confidence in my ability to write at all, let alone write well. By challenging myself repeatedly to unrealistic goals, I’ve only made things worse, which has made me more stressed – and that doesn’t help on either the writing or baby-making front.

So, I’ve been trying to be more gentle with myself. I still try to write every day, but if it’s only a sentence, so be it. And if it’s nothing at all, that’s okay, too, because if there’s one thing I learned it’s that trying to force the words out when they don’t want to come only makes everything more difficult in the end.

My take on the Write Every Day rule? Use it as a guideline more than divine law, and don't beat yourself if circumstances conspire against you putting words onto paper or on a screen.

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