Earlier this year, I blogged about reasons to keep a journal.
I did this primarily to convince myself to follow my own advice.
Not literally; I’ve never met or communicated with the renowned author and screenwriter personally.
However in her bestselling creative self-help book/program The Artist’s Way, which I completed in 2011, she advocates a practice of “morning pages”—three handwritten, stream-of-consciousness pages of journaling first thing every morning.
But long before reaching that point, should a writer reward the intermediate stages of his/her writing journey?
In the past, I’ve written not only about both the importance of goal-setting, but also of ensuring your goals have corresponding plans to power their fulfillment.
For they are found everywhere online: in status updates; in tweets; as part of social media bios; within blog posts. Sometimes an individual blog post will be nothing but a quotation.
I too enjoy a good quote. Back in 2010, I did the 12-week self-help, self-directed artistic rediscovery course known as The Artist’s Way, which is the subject of screenwriter Julia Cameron’s book by the same name.
It took me 11 months to complete the program.
I’ve twice had it happen where writing has taken over my life, the first time being back in 2004 when I was writing my first (incomplete, shelved) novel, and the second in 2005 when I wrote the first volume of my two-volume historical fiction WIP.
In 2005 especially, I fully gave myself over to my writing.
A Distractions & Subtractions post for Dianne Gray
The temptation is certainly strong to say there hasn’t been – that the Ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, the Renaissance (wo)men, the Elizabethans, and the Romantics with their sculpture and architecture, their mosaics and genre scenes, their busts and paintings, their music, literature and frescos, their theatre, and their landscape-focused writing, painting, and composing that seem to burst from the pages of history texts all revered their artists.
Maybe they did.
But perhaps their artists suffered the historical equivalent to what many artists face today – that is to say, a stifling daily grind of the working world with all its attendant hassles that is the sworn enemy of creativity.
There’s the commuting, the budgets, deadlines, overtime, stagnation, trying to do more with less, spending more hours a week at work than not at work, and the constant competition for more, better, and now that exemplifies a consumer-based economy.
All of these practicalities of life leave the modern artistically-inclined especially feeling drained, de-animated, and deprived of the space, reflection, and deliberation required to let loose their imaginations and give their creative musings a tangible form.
Such is no different for national/international award winning Australian author Dianne Gray, whose writing subtraction speaks wholly to this artist/workaday dichotomy many of us struggle to reconcile.
That “break” lasted six years.
They say that love is blind. I’d like to submit my own saying: love can make you stop writing. Especially when it is unrequited love. For my time away from writing my novel did indeed involve unrequited love, as well as obsession of an entirely different sort, rivalry, a joking/not joking threat of getting shoved off a boardwalk, and is practically a novel in its own right.
I’m not going to discuss it in any detail, for though it was a significant experience in my life that would go on to shape many things to come and perhaps even still does, it’s not a part of my “story” that I wish to continue living and carrying around with me.
I will concede that it was a time that allowed me to develop other interests, skills, and facets of my personality. Yet my pursuit of all that stuff (not to mention “the guy”) was no less balanced than when I was deep in the throes of Obsessive Writer’s Disorder – writing nonstop during meals and when I should have been sleeping.
All that’s in the past.
This is the future.
This, for me, is a rare occurrence. I take my health, fitness, and diet very seriously, and am also just naturally blessed with an ironclad constitution.
As a result, the minor aches, coughs, and sniffles that many people suffer every other month do not afflict me. I don’t even really get monthly menstrual cramps.
What I do get is one major illness every year to year-and-a-half that takes me down for about a week despite my prideful efforts to fight it.
That’s what this recent illness was: it started off as a sore throat, quickly progressed to a hacking cough, and before I could say, “I’m fine,” I had a full-blown head cold complete with cement-filled sinuses, pounding temples, aching neck, shoulders, back and abs from coughing, throat scratched raw from the same, tiredness, weakness, and about as much air capacity in my lungs as if I were breathing through a straw, particularly when trying to lie in bed.
I was not fine.
And the thing that hurt the most was my ego in having to admit to my malady.
It was a low moment. So low, in fact, my body became a metaphor for my mental state: bypassing my bed entirely, I spread a blanket on my living room floor, brought my laptop down with me, and searched for something to watch on YouTube to distract me from my misery.
Anyone who knows me (which, admittedly, not many do yet by way of this blog, but perhaps, in time, that will change) knows that I love rules. Seriously. Someone actually accused me once of taking the proverbial “rule book” to bed with me at night. It’s hardly something I can deny; I did already out myself on my “About” tab as being fairly left-brained, rational, and rigid, and to quote (or misquote) Popeye, “I am what I am”. But my love of rules is not because I lack sufficient imagination or ability to think for myself, but rather, I find that when the structure and consistency that rules promote is in place, creativity and imagination are able to flourish.