This week I faced more writing struggles than I tend to on a regular basis. I even missed yesterday’s post because of those struggles.
I had back to back migraines that kept me from doing the things that I love. A typical week finds me at 229 Yoga, taking a cycling class or a cardio barre class, sweating like a sinner in church with tears lining my face as I ask myself for the umpteenth time why I like to torture myself this way. It’s the endorphins. I’m an addict.
I love to exercise and over the last week and into the weekend the migraines literally took that away from me. But that wasn’t all they stole, they robbed me of the work I had to do on book two of my series. At the time, I felt so defeated. Now, in retrospect, I can accept that things happen and that the only way to go from here is forward. I’m at the point where I’m thinking there’s really no use crying over spilled milk.
This week, I’ve still been getting migraines. The only difference between this week and last is that I made a quasi-decision regarding them. That decision is a sort of mantra, or rather two mantras. The first is that the migraines are not who I am. They don’t define me and while I am in pain, I will not let them defeat me. The second: If I’m in pain anyway, might as well light my muscles on fire at the studio.
With all of that considered, and being completely honest, my current struggle with writing is just sitting down and getting the work done. I have an outline and I am excited about where this story is going, but the motivation to actually do it seems to keep alluding me.
I have this mantra. Yes, another one. It goes something like this: I can do anything for five minutes, if I still hate it after five minutes, I can quit. The beauty of this mantra, when actually put into practice, is that I inevitably place my Mac on my lap, set my timer for five minutes and when the five minutes are up, I frantically am swiping at my phone to shut the hell up, because, doesn’t it know I’m busy here? It’s a great system. When used. I suppose that’s true for all effective systems though, isn’t it?
Last week, I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and Lee Smith’s interview from “Novel Ideas” and I found that I connected more to Stephen King’s experience than I did Smith’s. That may be because Smith didn’t really seem to talk much about any obstacles she faced, as opposed to King who really talked at length about his in a way that I could connect to. Smith also said that she’s never suffered from writer’s block, which, if I were being completely honest made me feel very distanced from her.
At that point, I just couldn’t relate anymore. If I were being rude, then I’d say her statement sounds like a load of horse poo poo. Take that as you will. Regardless, I feel like she wasn’t being really honest about writer’s block. Or was she pretentious? I haven’t decided yet.
King, on the other hand, talked about the very reality of writer’s block and how it had lasted for almost three years (give or take, don’t fact check me, it was a long time!) for him in the writing of “On Writing”.
I can connect to someone who is transparent about the fact that writing isn’t always easy, that writing is hard and sometimes, writing just sucks and is painful to do and it’s also something that we, as writers, inevitably have to work through. Because writing is part of the fabric of our being, it’s not something we can just excise and call it a day. That’s like saying we’re tired of our hearts being broken and then deciding to rip it out. Impossible.
Overall, after reading King’s and Smith’s thoughts on their process, I felt very encouraged that I’m doing all the right things and that my struggles are normal, common and to be expected. Essentially, I’m not a special snowflake. I’m not the only one who’s struggled to come to the page and just get the work done. And that feels very freeing. It’s like a pass given to me to forgive my shortcomings, get over them and just get to work.
I also liked how King talked about health and exercise as part of his routine. As of the New Year, I set for myself some clear and attainable goals for my health. As a result, I’m seeing Joy from Joyful Apricot who is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has helped me craft a tailored plan that we are constantly reevaluating for migraine triggers. Since the start of the New Year, I’ve lost 18 pounds with Joy’s guidance. If you’re in the Albany/Leesburg area and want to talk to someone about health, Joy is your girl!
On top of getting my nutrition right, I also exercise between 5-8 times a week depending on my own laziness and whether or not I double up on any given day. I’m determined to keep this up not only this week but in the following weeks too–regardless of if a migraine sets in.
When it comes to getting my work done, both for my MFA and for my books, I use the time while my kids are at school and the early morning before they wake up to write. I haven’t timed my “actual time” of working hours, but I feel like I’m more than blessed with enough time. When it comes down to it, I just need to learn how to use the time I’m given wisely and get the frick off of Pinterest!
At the end of the day, all of this boils down to another mantra: cut the distractions, cut the crap, and just get to work.
Keep Reading and Keep Writing,