REKINDLING

It’s been a little over seven months since I last posted. Within those seven months there have been some days that beat me, that took me head on and left me a groaning mess at the end. And because of these isolated incidents of universal abuse I rationalised to myself that I didn’t have to write. I could give myself the day off. I was broken, and battered, and allowed to be lazy.

But the truth is these days, these islands of hardship, were surrounded by an ocean of inactivity, where, if I’m honest with myself, a bit of productivity would have gone a long way to restoring me a little. But, as is often the case, inactivity led to even greater inactivity, until months had passed and not a word was written, which served only to deflate me further, sapping any dregs of motivation out of me and making anything that required focus and drive an impossible peak not even worth trying to surmount.

Not long ago my guilt at my own inaction reached an apex and I cracked open my laptop and started a story that had come to me in the many months before my drought of action. The story had settled into the silt of what had previously been creative juices and reawakening that part of my brain took a little coaxing. I wrote two hundred words and felt prodigious. I read those two hundred words three times over, satisfied myself that there was still a spark of writing in me, and shut the laptop lid. It was enough. No point straining something, better to ease back into it.

But, as is often the case, activity led to even greater activity. I found myself tasting the sentences of what I had written while laying in bed at night and coming up with more sentences to follow. WIth ideas and with similes. With characters and their back story. The congealed and dormant creative juices had been stirred and were starting to heat up. Even better, I was starting to wake up from the fog of justified idleness. I felt energised because I had created something and that enthusiasm could be fed back into the creative project, creating more motivation. It was sustainable energy, and it fuelled me to write.

Since then I’ve finished the story, and more importantly been satisfied with the story, and moved on to writing something a bit longer. All it took was taking that first grudging step, tapping those keys until I had one sentence, which led to wanting to write more.

And in light of that, in light of writing more and small actions leading to big results, I will endeavour to make more posts to this site, more for myself that for anyone reading.

But if you are curious, please tag along.

TOWARDS THE MOUNTAIN

Most aspiring writers are people who work a full-time job and use their precious free time to practice their hobby of writing. They dig caves into their blankets, settle in with their laptops, and become hermits from the world. I know this because I am one such hermit. This voluntary isolation is the only way I get writing done. And even then, it’s still a challenge. A here’s the reason:

Working full-time is hard.

Most days after nursing in the community I come home, lay on my bed, and tell myself I’ll watch half an hour of television before turning the rest of the afternoon into a whirlwind of productivity. It’s when I realise the sun has set, that I’ve been napping for the last hour, and should probably do something about dinner that I realise my productive whirlwind has wound down to more of a laboured huff.

The balance of working and writing is a hard one to maintain. Ideally, writing is where I’d like to pour most of my energy. But to perform my job, and more importantly, to perform it well, requires energy. Who would have thought?

This results in me soldiering through the working day and deflating in the evening. You know motivation is flagging when even the idea of going down to the shops is a herculean effort worthy of three hours of rest, followed by a bowl of ice-cream which leads naturally into a sugar-crash sleep. And that’s not a pretty image.

The point of the exhausted picture I’m painting is that if you want to create something, it requires effort. Finding the balance of dispersing your effort can be a hard thing, and I wouldn’t blame anyone if their creative projects fell to the wayside under the pressure of simply getting through life. But if you want it, more often than not you’ll find putting energy into a creative project gives motivation. You feel like you’ve done something worthy of note, and that you’re getting to the place you want to be.

To steal a quote from Neil Gaiman, it takes you closer to the mountain.

And that’s the secret, I think. When you’re working on what you love, giving effort results in energy. Even as I’m writing this I’m feeling more awake that I have all afternoon because I’m creating. I’m engaging in an activity that is in itself self-rewarding. I’m walking towards my mountain.

Neil Gaiman said it better, so I’ll let his words do the explaining:

For me, it’s important to remind myself of where I want to be heading, and to realign myself now and then when I notice I’m slipping off the path. And it’s important to remember that motivation can be found simply by starting even when I’m feeling tired. Because every word I type gives me energy and gets me closer towards the mountain.

I hope your day included creativity, motivation, and steps towards your mountain.