Monday, 31 October 2011


Well, not really, simply occupied.

I’m disappointed that I haven’t blogged since late August. When we writers start blogs, we generally have a posting schedule in mind. I set my bar low, planning to do at least one post a month. I had lots to say early on and surpassed that goal, then fell into my projected monthly rhythm. Well, except the gaps between posts became larger as time went on, running six weeks rather than thirty days.

Then I missed an entire month and almost a second, oh my.

So much for goals. Not that I don’t support goal setting or always miss the mark. I do think it’s useful to aim for writing a certain amount of time or number of words each day/week/month. After all, consistency is what moves us forward and makes us better writers. You can’t achieve much with wishes, hopes, or dreams. In this business, we have to apply butt to chair and write. Or at least unleash our imaginations and let ‘er rip until our thoughts spill into our fingertips.

There’s great value in flexibility and spontaneity. All work and no imaginative play makes any writer dull. So look at the bigger picture and don’t always try to micromanage your writing life if your odd schedule or renegade methods work for you.

But if your writing life isn’t in the right gear, examine your writing habits. Are you meeting your goals? If not, why? Are you setting the bar too high? Too low? Are you not motivated enough? Do you get bogged down in a rut? Waylaid by distractions? Or do you just think you’re not working when you’re really doing some essential living?

Distractions are a major obstacle for most writers and artists. The internet is clearly our greatest blessing and curse. Hours can pass like minutes when we get online for a little research or break for some fun with e-mail or social media. If you have a telecommute job or freelance at home, then the blessings and curses multiply. It helps to write from a computer with no internet connection or by pretending the connection is down. We imaginative types can convince ourselves of almost any reality! You can also try implementing a schedule of online rewards for writing and editing time well spent.

Apparently, there is  software for incorrigibles that will prevent logging on to the internet at specified times and I suspect that’s the answer for info junkies like me. *Cough*

Anything in the immediate environment can distract, from telephone to doorbell, to that big pile of laundry you didn’t wash last night. Maybe you need to move around with a laptop or go to a coffee shop once in awhile to stay fresh. Or maybe you have kids / pets / spouses / outside day jobs / infinite responsibilities and you MUST write at particular times or not at all. Then establishing clear priorities and schedules and sticking to them is a must.

Ruts are one of my greatest pitfalls. Rather than forge ahead in a playful manner, I tend to hunker down over old work and revise, revise, revise, which sometimes pays off with an unexpected publication. But I have an overblown sense of responsibility and often ignore my sense of playfulness. I could have some fun noodling around with imaginative writing prompts to get some new stories and projects started, but my ingrained sense of responsibility kicks in and I’ll tend to old, worn-out pieces instead. Don’t let anyone call me a quitter!

There’s always a time and a place for revision and the dull nuts and bolts of writing, of course, but there’s also no need to swim with the jellyfish all the time when you could be soaring with sundogs. Writing is SUPPOSED to be FUN, dagnabit!

If you’re anything like me, not only do you deal with ruts and distractions, you must either write or die! The rest of my life seems to work better when I’m creative, as if creativity is the soil from which everything else grows. Some distractions aren’t always separate from our writing or our lives. Sometimes we have to pull away from our craft and let our lives unfold now so that we have writing fodder later. In managing our time and occupying our lives, we must decide what makes our efforts worthwhile.

Occupy Wall Street has been one of my favorite distractions lately. There’s nothing like a major world movement to snag your attention, if you’re as much interested in the state of humanity as you are in your craft. In my world, the two interests go hand-in-hand. After all, no matter whether you’re writing fiction, nonfiction, or poetry or some combination of genres, then you’re working to affect your readers’ minds and emotions, to provide them with an experience that makes them see something in a different light. So whether you agree or not with OWS politics, you’ll have to concede that there’s a big change in consciousness afoot, a movement manifesting in different political spheres around the globe as people reclaim their own power.

Life really is stranger than fiction and you never know whether catching errant dust bunnies, earning a Nobel prize in literature, or marching down Main Street will constitute a life well-lived. Like anything else, this is a matter of personal choice and inclination. So whether you occupy that dust mop, occupy that desk, or Occupy Wall Street, do it with gusto, complete concentration, and a mischievous sense of fun!