I have a bad habit of taking long breaks between writing projects. I finish one project and it takes me months to gear up and start working on the next one. Why? It’s not from lack of ideas. I’ve got more ideas than time to write them all. It seems to be more from a lack of will.
I don’t know why a project seems to take so much out of me. It doesn’t really. It’s more like I think about all the work it will take to start a new project. I’m like Sisyphus looking at the boulder that is my next writing project and I say to myself “You expect me to move that thing up to the top of the mountain only to have it roll back down the next day?”
It’s a form of insanity, isn’t it? Doing the same thing over and over…
I suppose if you look at the creation of art as a destination it can feel crazy that you have to keep doing it. But creating art is a process. It’s a way of interpreting the world. It doesn’t have a final goal. You have touch points or milestones that your finished pieces become. But the work, the practice never stops. It should be a regular activity.
It’s like daily exercise for your soul.
I just reread Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield. It’s a good call to arms and reminder to move beyond the dabbling and “turn pro”. The concept of Turning Pro is to commit to doing the work necessary to create your art. And to do it consistently.
I tell myself that I’m not afraid of doing the work. But am I? Maybe I am. Maybe that’s why I keep procrastinating.
Why do I avoid the writing? Watching TV is my drug of choice. But that addiction takes me away from doing the writing that I want to do. Before I know it, another day is done and I haven’t moved any closer to becoming a better playwright or writer.
The “amateur” part of me wants to have written, but doesn’t want to write. But the truth is that I enjoy the writing once I’m doing it. Like any exercise, it’s the “getting started” that’s the challenge. The actual activity is usually fulfilling once it’s done.
I don’t expect to make my living as a playwright. It would be nice, but it’s not necessary. It is necessary to write to be a playwright, though. “Turning Pro” isn’t about making your living doing your art. It’s about doing your art so that you can fully live and grow.
So, I’m making a re-commitment to “turning pro”. I’m trying to grow my writing back into a daily habit.
Usually, I break activities into chunks of 15 minutes or more. But I need to start even smaller because I just wasn’t doing the work. For the past week, I’ve been writing for a minimum of 5 minutes a day. I’ve been able to do that! And it’s amazing how easy and fulfilling it feels to just do it.
I want to grow my daily writing time by an additional 5 minutes each week. So, I’ll be spending 10 minutes a day this week. And 15 minutes a day next week. Slowly, I’ll increase the time that I’m doing my writing practice. And I’ll focus on the practice and process of writing, instead of looking at it as a destination.
© 2018 Peter Gruner