I have to confess: I don’t write every day. Not always. Not 365 days a year. Not 7 days a week. I don’t necessarily believe in the butt-in-chair method (isn’t the new thing that sitting is killing us?). I can’t buy into a one-size-fits-all definition of what a writer’s life should look like.
What I do believe in is fluidity. Constant change. My writing life is a lot like the seasons of the year, cyclical and ever-present, but also like the weather, unpredictable.
When I’m deep in drafting mode, I wake up before sunrise—almost daily—so I can catch the words just as they’re floating through that ethereal place between dreams and consciousness. I do this four or five days in a row and then rest for one or two, for however many months the story takes. It’s invigorating, and sometimes exhausting, but it’s all about momentum then, like getting caught in a storm and being left spent, breathless, once it’s over.
I can never dive back in right away. Always, there’s a period of decompression. I step away from the page completely and those are the days when I don’t write at all. Maybe I’ll journal, or I’ll write letters between characters, or I’ll write articles and copywriting projects but not fiction (blasphemy!) for weeks. I’ve managed to stop feeling guilty about this because it’s simply what works for me. Sometimes, the best thing I can do for my writing is to stop writing.
Eventually the wind changes. There’s always a point when, if I’m honest with myself, I’ve crossed over from recharging to procrastinating, and that’s when I know it’s time to start revising. I often do this early in the morning, especially if it’s a heavy rewrite. Other times I’ll steal away hours in the afternoon, balancing my freelance writing with a quick playdate with my characters.
I’ve gone through these seasons enough times to notice a pattern: no matter how busy life gets or how difficult the story becomes, in the end the writing gets done. I have to remind myself—on those dark, cold nights when I fear I won’t find my way back to the page—to trust the process. Yes, it’s fickle and uncertain and there’s no one to tell me: today’s forecast is a downpour of emotions followed by clear, sunny resolutions.
All I know is the days, weeks and months will keep passing, and I want to have something to show for it when they do.
What do your life’s seasons look like?
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