Many people tell me they want to write, that they would find the life of a writer exhilarating. I squint at each one of these people, imagining him or her hunched over a keyboard late at night, a clump of mussed hair in one hand and a flat beer in the other. Then I smile and say, “That’s great! You should do it!”
Maybe these aspiring writers sense my disbelief, because once I say this, they often offer excuses and admissions of insecurity. Concerns about time, talent, inspiration, and financial feasibility roll out. I’m not surprised, because I have had those concerns, too. I try to stay encouraging. Writing is not all that hard, I try to tell them (and myself). It just takes facing a few blocks, I say.
I would like to take a look a few of these obstacles to writing in this blog.
Block #1: I don’t have time to write.
As the author Rebecca McClanahan points out, in her book Write Your Heart Out, “writing only happens by writing. There is simply no way around it: You must make time for writing to occur.” The problem begins when we start to envision our ideal time and place for creativity. Are you waiting for a solid few hours when you can slide into a scented bath with candle flames flickering and viola music caressing your leather-bound journal as you set down line after beautifully inked line? Then you will not, indeed, have time to write.
But consider a professor I know who wrote her Ph.D. dissertation while raising five kids. Think about the legions of cell phone novelists, clicking away between train stations. McClanahan actually did write in the bathtub, but only because a bath was the sole place and time she could grab for writing in a family of six children.
So find the time, or make it. If they can do it, we can do it.
(Photo by Chris Dent via Flickr/Creative Commons. Read the poem written on the walls)