Just write. This was the phrase I chose one year as my inspiration. I often choose a word or a phrase each year as a motivational tool to help keep me on track. Looking back, ‘just write’ is one of the simplest and most straight forward, yet it has had, perhaps, the most lasting impact. It feels as relevant going into 2018 as it was back in 2013 when I pinned it to my bulletin board.
At times authors need a little shot of writerly adrenaline – a way to rediscover the wonder of writing. The admonition to ‘just write’ might be the simplest and best way to do that. Be it rants, prayers, observations, or actual story ideas; in a journal, blog, on a fancy software program, or even on a napkin, there is something about transferring words from one’s brain into written form that stirs the creative juices and inspires the soul. All the prompts, ‘how-to’ books, and motivational gimmicks still depend on action. It’s the difference between thinking about something and actually doing it.
Take exercise, for instance. Purchasing a gym membership means nothing if one doesn’t go to the gym. (I know. I’ve done that more than once.) Knowledge and good intentions require active participation if one is to actually become physically fit. For years I wanted to get more exercise, but didn’t have the will power to do anything about it. I had lots of excuses, which mostly boiled down to me being lazy. After heart surgery last spring, I enrolled in a cardiac rehabilitation program that includes some serious bodily training. I work harder at the gym now than I ever did in my entire life – and I’m loving it.
So it is with any area of life. Establishing good habits takes will power and discipline. Setting daily word counts or scheduling uninterrupted writing times are just a couple of ways to make sure writing becomes a habit. It has been my experience that forcing myself to start on a writing project is often all I need to ‘feel’ that sense of inspiration again.
For those of us who love to journal, writing daily is a no-brainer. Whether we call it ‘morning pages’, journaling, or prayer writing, it amounts to the same thing – a way to process thoughts, express emotions, or generate ideas. This past November as I was working on a new ‘Nanowrimo’ project, I was prompted to go back through many of my old journals. I was writing a memoir about our homeschooling experiences, (I homeschooled my four children for about nine years) but there were many details that I wanted to check. As I read what I had written, I gained so much more than just the facts. I was transported back to how it felt – the emotional ups and downs of both the triumphs and regrets. My own words, sometimes written in haste, have provided fertile seed for more words – the law of multiplication at its most basic level.
It’s why the advice to ‘just write’ remains so powerful, despite its simplicity. Set aside time for writing – with or without deadlines. Nothing else will help to recapture the joy of putting words to paper like actually doing it.
Tracy Krauss continues to write relentlessly from her home in northern BC, where she also teaches secondary school Art, Drama, and English. Visit her website for more about her many published books and plays. http://tracykrauss.com -fiction on the edge without crossing the line-