In my quest for 1000 words each day I have found some things to be true:
Not writing is just as hard as doing the writing. Finding a reason to flake out, making up an excuse or two, looking for justification in avoiding the task takes as much creative energy as it takes to sit down and do the writing. The words that I conjure in my mind to explain to myself why doing this task is ridiculous are as numerous as those I am able to put down in observation, reflection and revelry of the things that are important or interesting to me.
Not writing is just as hard as writing. When it all comes down to that basic truth, it is that “not writing” yields nothing and so while it takes energy (all the ways I avoid writing), it isn’t real work. The real work is pushing aside the excuses, the reasons, the justifications and putting words to page. The real work, the work of the heart is making something that can be shared and may last beyond the blink of an eye and a bottle of beer.
The real work is mining the depths of experience and finding the gems that amuse, that delight and amaze me in a way that not writing them down would be a travesty. Finding the things that others can feel and see in their own lives.
It’s interesting to me that some of the most interesting people I know have had many of the same experiences I’ve had, and the only difference between us is that they have written the stories down or stood up in front of people and told those stories. The story, wrtten or told, is durable and will carry on. The story kept inside will die with a good smack to the head.
The real work is caring enough about the other person to share the story out of love or caring or concern. It is the caring of one for another that prompts so many stories. We have told or have heard the “when I was your age” story, and the purpose is always to give guidance or to save the audience from the perils of the choices we, the storytellers, have made. It is in us that we have a duty a responsibility to our audience to save them from our own misfortunes that appear to be on the verge or replay in the audience lives.
Not writing is just as hard as writing , but not writing is selfish, stingy, stodgy. It is like having a secret and whispering about it to yourself and when asked what you said, replying with a bemused, “Oh, nothing.” and then smirking as though to say “Ha! Take that! I know something you don’t know. Nyah nyah nyah!” Writing is living out loud, living in a place where it is better to be open, vulnerable, and honest. This notion is scary, I admit, but it is easier and friendlier than the alternative.
But what if I share and someone doesn’t like it…? What if? So what? What’s the worst that could happen? Nothing. That’s the worst that could happen. Sometimes I worry about the thing I think in my own mind that bears no truth in reality. The fear of being rejected is powerful in keeping me from moving.
Not writing, jams the storage unit full to overflowing and is like packing the used kitty litter in the suitcase and tossing it somewhere in the middle of the pile. Writing is like spring cleaning, airing out the linens on the line in the sunshine and taking stock of what is good, bad, or otherwise unaffected. The real work is getting the stuff out of storage and putting it up to see what is useable and has value.
Why would anyone write 1000 words a day? Why 1000, why not 100, or 500? why not something just a bit easier? The answer is this… If I only had to do 300, I would have stopped before I ever wrote a line that I really like. 1000 pushes the writing past what is comfortable and easy. If it’s easy it’s unlikely that real gold will surface. Sure there would be lots of fools gold, clever cliches and idioms, but in looking back, nothing that is truly gold (or perhaps silver) ever really occurs in the first 300 words.
The real work is writing even though it is hard. Real work means that something gets accomplished. A wall is built, a fence is mended, the compost is stirred and sifted, the ideas take shape, the characters come to life, the life is saved, the heart is healed. Writing is the real work and it is the work worth doing. Why write 1000 words today?
For me, it’s because not writing these 1000 words would mean that I am denying who I am and what I enjoy. To not write these 1000 words would mean that I didn’t practice discipline. I would have thought 1000 words and never come up with a good reason not to write.
I committed to have 1000 words every day. Yesterday and today I almost talked myself out of it. So in a sense, these 1000 words today are a small victory over the failures of my past. I know that tomorrow they will probably be even harder to get down on paper. In the end, it is about showing up. I showed up today to do the real work.
The real work is writing so that I can become a better writer. The real work is becoming what I believe I am supposed to be. The real work is finding my voice and sharing it with you, 1000 words at a time.
What are you NOT doing that might make a difference for you? Because here’s the thing, not doing, whatever it is for you, writing, sewing, dancing, singing, planting is probably just as difficult as actually doing it, and NOT doing it bears no fruit, no reward. Go and do that thing today. Don’t wait.