Writing is hard, incredibly hard and if you overcame the romantic idea of an author sitting at a candlelit table, with a quill in his hand, bent over a pile of papers (a computer nowadays), and if you ever tried to write more than one thousand words day after day you know what I mean. Also listen to the masters:
“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
I struggled years to escape the idea of easy writing (one more reason to hate Hollywood), and also the inspiration myth (true only if we’re speaking about the planing stage, but more on this in another post) and to understand that to be a good writer or even a mediocre one, in the end a simple writer, it means to have good bones and to have the stamina to stay hour after hour in a chair bleeding on top of the scaring white paper.
Above all, to be a writer means to understand discipline, to follow a draconic schedule, is like being in the army, like learning to play an instrument (countless hours of doing the same thing, without apparent reason, until one day you’re illuminated).
New Year or birthday resolutions, nothing helped. It was fine for a week or two or a couple of months in the best of cases, but soon I was finding myself struggling with the remorses and guilts of quitting. And stress was accumulating until the point that I needed to runaway and curse the idea of writing so I can keep my sanity.
But there was a faint voice in my had that was saying I’m doing it wrong, that is not stamina, or determination or not even discipline that I’m missing, but something else more subtle – prioritisation.
Writing was always something done in the end after all was completed: late in the evening, after dinner, after doing the dishes, sometimes I was starting as late as 9pm, to discover that I was so tired and hence the stress of having to go to sleep in an hour to be able to function next day was slowly accumulating. Once I even tried to do it early in the morning, before going to work, waking up at five to write for an hour, but the rest of the day was a living hell, and there was also the fact that getting up so meant that all my thoughts were foggy and that the writing was slowly transforming into scribbling.
Without knowing it somehow I finally got it. Writing has to be the first thing I do. In the weekends immediately after breakfast with a cup of coffee on my side, and in the working days the first thing in the evening, before lunch, dishes, books, love, friends, telephone chats, internet and all the modern insanity. And all changed after that. Even if I don’t manage to write as much as I hope when I start, I feel the relief of at least doing it and the procrastination doesn’t show its grim smile anymore. Guilt is becoming a little toy I manage to play with.
It’s as simple as that: If it’s important do it first!