In her new book, Still Writing, Dani Shaprio, shares countless beads of wisdom for writers, among them this is one of my favorites:
“Sit. Stay there. It’s hard—I know just how hard—and I hate to tell you this, but it doesn’t get easier. Ever. Get used to the discomfort. Make some kind of peace with it.”
This advice is on the heels of her also telling the reader that while writing one needs to forego any activity that distracts. Things like: email, social media, on-line research; they all can wait.
While I was writing, Tornado Warning, every morning at 5:00AM I was in the chair. And I say chair because I had no office back then. It didn’t matter where I wrote, often I was at the kitchen table, headphones on, lost in thought, steeped in memory, typing, thinking and then typing again.
Hours later I would fit in a run with the dog—time where all my earlier musings would be left to marinate and my mind was free to ramble.
Once back, I would recommit myself to the page.
Although I had a Facebook, and later into the writing, a Twitter, they rarely sidetracked me the way they can today, then they were an after thought. Oh how I miss those days.
Of course every writer out there has been told, you need a platform, but what use is a platform if you aren’t writing?
Today the largest rabbit hole a person can fall into is the Internet. Five years ago social media was just getting its foothold, even though plenty of people were early to the scene, not everyone was living their life out loud.
I am not sure when the shift happened for me, but happened it did, now it is as if they whistle to me—Twitter with all its useful links and news. Facebook, where I have my book page, my blog page and communities of friends. Google +, the single most confusing space. Instagram where many of the same friends post their pictures—I have to decide whether or not I want to heed their call.
Keeping up with all of it feels like a full time job but here’s the kicker, it’s not.
When the words don’t come, turning to social media is a guarantee that I will remain stuck. I will remain stuck because I will get distracted. And guess what, when I return, sometimes hours later, I will still be stuck.
But when I dive into that stillness and allow myself to turn down the noise, invariably my mind chatter recedes and then I can find my way back into the work.
The quest for me is to find my rhythm, for it is there, where my thoughts and the page are one, the words unfold one after the other—that is where the magic is. That is the peace for me.