This week’s blog post almost didn’t happen. The usual sources weren’t delivering and the rare appearance of sun coupled with flowering trees and the thick layer of pollen in the air sapped my energy. I thought about a re-run, about skating out of a blog post or just rehashing an old topic. But I needed to write so I opened a blank page in Word and stared at it. No words magically appeared. I switched to iTunes and noticed I was way behind on my podcasts by about 28 episodes. I often listen to podcasts when I write to keep my mind focused and as “background noise”. I clicked on the podcast for The Truth – “a short film without pictures” and was immediately drawn in.
For those of you who don’t listen, and you really should, The Truth is a 10 to 15 minute podcasts based on a theme. The podcast sucks you in, peaks your curiosity and will have you listening again and again for missed details. The theme from the podcast I listened to is Where Have You Been? Actors explored the idea in a variety of ways from a daughter challenging an absent parent, a son making amends with an absent parent, and a parent explaining their long absence. As I sat entranced, one line made me stop, reverse a few seconds and listen again: Everyone’s overwhelmed with their life! Life is overwhelming! So did you find another life that didn’t overwhelm you?!
I looked at my To Do List sitting on my desk, and feeling a bit overwhelmed myself, realized it doesn’t have to be this way. My thoughts turned to a blog post I read earlier in the day on The Sophia Project website in which Cyndi writes about practicing our art and the obstacles we put in front of ourselves. We look for a magic formula, we make excuses, do the laundry, clean the house and care for our families first instead of just taking time to write, draw, or practice our art. Like many creatives, I tend to put my paying freelance projects ahead of my own writing projects instead of starting with them. In many ways it is like the financial advice so often given about paying yourself first and setting aside money savings like you would for a bill or utility. My own writing, like savings, shouldn’t be something which I only get after everything else is done because my writings is part of everything.
Continuing with this theme, Neil Gaiman and other accomplished writers were asked to take pictures of their hands and share professional advice for writers on SharedWorld’s website. I read through the submissions and noticed an emerging and simple theme: Write, write often, finish things, keep writing, and believe in your stories. Writing can be glorious, difficult, rewarding and maddening. So much so that it can easily be something that intimidates us even when it is our own work. So, we find ways to put it off rather than digging deep and letting our muse talk through us.
What about you, Gentle Reader? How do you go about practice your art before attending to laundry or your daily mundane tasks? Or do you?