I belong to several groups devoted to writing on Facebook and very often I’ll read posts from fellow members stating they feel guilty that they did not write for a day or longer. As a matter of fact, yesterday I did very little writing or re-writing/editing myself and for a while I felt a bit guilty about it. But I shouldn’t have, for I was still doing some work which is found on what I call the other side of writing.
Many writers feel that if we don’t have pen to paper or fingers to keyboard creating stanzas, writing dialogue, or expressing our thoughts, then we’re not being “writers.”
That’s just not true. Lawyers do not always appear in court. Actors are not always on stage or in front of cameras. Chefs do more than just cook. These people research, they take time to reflect, they rehearse and practice, they read, they organize their work spaces and do other “behind the scenes” things.
BEING something does not mean you are only one aspect of that thing; you are ALL aspects of it.
Do you feel that you just can’t write; are the words coming out too hard? Take a break and still BE a writer. Go out and observe people to catch snatches of dialogue or character ideas. Read articles on writing or read some fiction or poetry. Listen to music to inspire ideas. Read and perhaps do mild revision of your old writing, even rejected items. Watch a movie that reminds you of a time in your life you may be writing about. Take a walk and jot notes on things you see. Shop for groceries in the persona of a character. Talk to other writers about their experiences. Organize your files.
Do NOT do as I (and I bet many of us) sometimes do and play games on Facebook, get lost on You Tube or find some other activity to AVOID writing. Do SOMETHING that will help your writing, not just burn an hour or an evening away.
We sometimes put writing off for fear of not making progress. Well… when you see that written out, the contradiction in that way of thinking is pretty obvious, isn’t it?
Do something productive, even if it doesn’t “feel” like writing on the surface. What did I do yesterday in my “non-writing” mode? I organized my submission files, I pressed virtual flesh on Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress and I read other writers’ poetry.
I did the other side of writing.
And today I woke up to write a poem and then write this essay.
Today is a writer’s writing day. And to get to it, I had to to visit the other side of writing.