Things I Will Do To Avoid Writing


1. Laundry. Which I hate doing because I'm terrible at separating, determining appropriate rinse cycles, and folding. All of it. We all have our gifts. 

2. Send out emails planning my high school reunion. Donna Martin graduates.

3. Google "Can you get a wisdom tooth in your late 30s?" 

4. Call dentist.

5. Gather stack of books about writing on dining room table. Take Instagram photo of said books. 

6.  Think about the circus, which I'm taking my son to later in the week. Dance in my dining room to Britney Spears "Circus" in leopard print pajamas. Scour home office for circus programs from the 80s. There's the one with the unicorn! That would be a good essay. The circus as metaphor.

7. Change into yoga pants because they are easier to move in and this could count as a workout.

8. Attempt to do lunges around the dining room table, staring at the stack of writing books on them. Wishing that the gym were open today. Trying to be thankful for having the day off with a focus on writing. It's going so well! 

9. Google "Dancing to get unstuck" after thinking about relationship between physical movement and concentration. 

10. Obsessively check Twitter. Clearly the answers are there.

I open "Help! For Writers," by my mentor, Roy Peter Clark, believing that landing on specific chapters is like a message from the writing gods. "Getting Your Act Together," "Finding Focus," "Looking For Language." Only now I'm not just working on getting my own writing unstuck, I'm trying to help other people. Teach other people.

Come March, I'll be teaching a 30-day bootcamp through Creative Nonfiction Online. Each week, students will receive a written lecture and series of writing prompts -- one or two each day -- to inspire their writing. Along the way there will also be weekly readings, discussion, and feedback from yours truly. The feedback part to me is second nature -- it's what I do as an editor.

Putting together the prompts and lectures has been a different story. To clarify, this is the kind of prompt I'm talking about: 

"Describe the moment that everything changed. This could be something that happened directly to you, to someone in your life, or to a stranger. You could have been present or heard about this pivotal moment from a phone call, an email, a news report. How did it change one person’s world? How did it impact yours?"

And working on them is kind of driving me crazy. Because it makes me unpack my own personal writing. Makes me stand face-to-face with the reality that I haven't been doing a whole lot of it because:

1. Approximately 99% of my creative brain is focused on my full-time job as an editor.

2. And my energy is devoted to that and the rest of my life. 

3. And that I haven't been writing.

4. Because writing is hard. 

As Cheryl Strayed writes in this brilliant and often referenced essay, "Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig."

Right. Let's start digging.