- That I am constantly delaying my own dreams in order to live a ‘daily’ life
- That the only promises I tend to break are the ones I make to myself
- That writing means being (pro)active
- That I knew writing was going to be difficult, but not in the ways I imagined
I have realised more than just these four points but I feel that these are at the centre of my struggles currently. Late last night, after a long day at work followed by some basic household chores and, finally, a couple of hours of mind-numbing TV, I was just getting into bed when I suddenly thought ‘I haven’t written my sentence today‘. This was met with some resistance by the part of me that really, honestly, just wanted to get into bed and curl up to go to sleep. But, equally strong was the understanding that writing is something that I want to do, and if I don’t do it then what am I?
Hence the acceptance that in order to be a writer I actually have to write, and if I’m not willing to do that then I will never be that writer I want to be. Swiftly followed by the startling discovery that the reason I sometimes neglect to write isn’t because I don’t want to, or that I’m too tired, or that I’m without materials to capture my narrative: it’s much more simple than that. I don’t write because I’m too distracted ensuring that other people are happy, or things are in their rightful place, or that my work is done to the high standard my employer has come to expect from me. I always tend to bump writing down the list as other things come along, and I do this because the only individual monitoring this task is me. I am under the deluded assumption that letting myself down is of a lesser evil than letting someone else down.
I’m shaking my head as I write this, because it’s so plain to me now I have identified it that I have no idea how I so blindly continued with life constantly questioning my desire when actually it isn’t the desire that wanes, it’s my commitment; because I’m not used to putting myself first. I try so hard for other people in order to fulfil their expectations that when it comes down to my own standards I fall short. It was easy in the past when what I wanted was what everyone else expected of me: study hard, get good grades, complete a good degree, get a good job…but now ‘our’ wants are more complex than previously defined and thefeore they are diverging and competing for my time.
It’s written in every ‘how to’ book on writing every printed (I’m sure) that one of the most significant things you can do as a new writer is to carve out some time for yourself to be that writer whenever you can. If you don’t take it seriously no-one else will either and then you become stuck in that cycle of guilt that comes about when you half-heartedly attempt something without making it clear what it is exactly you really want or need and you fail on all accounts. In order to combat this I have to be proactive: I have to make that time, I have to commit to it and show others that my priorities have shifted to enable me to do what I want for a change, to allow my dreams to come first: to the benefit of all, in that hopefully I’ll be happier, more content and feel more drive in everything else because I’m finally feeding that deep need I have to write, rather than squirreling it away to create resentment.
When I do write I don’t find it difficult, at least not in the ways that I imagined. I face the same struggles as I’m sure every writer does with narrative, character, plot, vocabularly…etc. But I feel alive when I overcome these challenges and, more than anything, the last few months have made me realise that I can write: if only I focus on it more. The one sentence exercise has shown me that the greatest hurdle is beginning, it’s marking that time out and taking it in order to start with some words and continue on: then, often, it feels so natural and reassuring to write. The difficulty isn’t in the writing, it’s in the doing: the act itself of sitting down and dedicating yourself to your art repeatedly, day after day after week after month. It’s something I dream of, yet I have no actions that prove I am following that dream.
So yes, from now on I understand that what I need to do is prioritise my desire to write, possibly to the (minor) detriment of those around me. I need to have faith in my commitment to the promises I make to myself, as though I were a best friend or sister whom I would never let down: I’m important too, and I need to accept this to move forward. I’ll dedicate myself to finding that time everyday in order to build on my dream and I will take it – because it’s rightfully mine. And, I will use the all the abilities I have mastered over the years in order to juggle multiple balls, knowing that the one I should not drop over all else is the one marked ‘writer‘.