We need your voice now more than ever. Your ideas. Your thoughts. We need work to do, to have our voices heard. But how to do it when you feel helpless? Or so enraged you’re boiling? Or horrified to the state of blankness? I feel the same right now, and yet I know I must write, to create, to share love, to make art. Here is how I do it.
There are three crucial things that allow me to concentrate and crank out words daily:
Unless there is a chunk of at least four uninterrupted hours, it’s highly unlikely I’ll produce anything that won’t need to be revised to death later. I could get away with two hours if I was able to fiercely concentrate. Alas, I can’t. Four hours is what I must have. Knowing this lets me plan ahead of time. Knowing that any distraction puts my mind at risk of not being able to concentrate on my story, I write first thing in the morning BEFORE GOING ONLINE. If I read even a small piece of news, my concentration is gone. My story seems so trivial to me compared to what’s happening in America at the moment, hell, in the whole world, I can’t continue. So I make myself write first thing in the morning.
Maybe for you two hours will be enough. Maybe even one. I knew a man who wrote every morning for 30 minutes, before his baby woke up. Now that’s dedication. And he finished his book, too. Whatever it is, find time for your writing and stick to it with the fierceness of a wolf mother. Bare your teeth at anyone who dares to take it away from you.
Unless I have quiet, a place where I can be alone and close the door, I can’t write. I know of writers who write in coffee shops, but that’s not me. Knowing this, I often wait in the mornings until everyone is out of the house and THEN I start writing. I love the workweek for that reason. I hate weekends for that reason. Everyone is home, and I can feel people moving in the house, and it grates on my skin.
I’m lucky to have a room (our bedroom) where I can close the door. Not many people do. But perhaps you can hide out in the closet like Stephen King did, or perhaps you can escape to your local library or bookstore. Anything that would work for you is what will keep you moving. Find that place and guard it like the most fearsome dragon.
Unless I read fiction every day and see how other writers did it, I dry out pretty quickly. It’s okay to wallow in my thoughts for a while, but if I don’t see how many possible ways there are to express what I feel, I get stuck, then I start doubting myself, then I start hating my writing, and then it goes down the spiral of “Why bother? Nobody will read this shit anyway. It’s pathetic.” Reading cures me of this. It teaches me craft. It shows me that what I’m writing about is important, because others wrote about it before me and they made me feel it, that means I can make people feel what I feel. That gives me hope and gets me going.
So read like mad. Every day along with your writing do reading that teaches you how to say what you want to say and what inspires you to keep going. Don’t read something just because everyone is reading it, read what FIRES YOU UP.
This is it.
If you’ve got tips of your own, SHARE. We’re in this together. The more of us speak up, the more of us will be heard, the more change we will make, regardless of laws or government or the upcoming presidency.
George Orwell said, “The point is that the relative freedom which we enjoy depends of public opinion. The law is no protection. Governments make laws, but whether they are carried out, and how the police behave, depends on the general temper in the country. If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.”