As I near the end of December 2016, my reset month of no planning and no pressure, inspiration has grabbed my brain and pulled it into a dizzy dance. My experience of the world around me (and within me, in the form of powerful dreams) over the last month has been nudging me towards a very specific action – write more. Not write more for work, or write more for other people or organisations, or write more to convince people to buy things or attend things or volunteer for things, or write more when I have some spare time between other tasks and missions. Write more for myself, write more creatively, write more with passion. Write more of what I want to write. Write more and start a journey. Write more because it is what I want to do, what I have always wanted to do, what I have always found reasons not to do. Write more and don’t be scared. Write more and mean it. Just write more.
To be fair to myself, a lot of the reasons why I haven’t been writing more already have been related to difficult circumstances that have genuinely prevented me from having the time, energy and creative juice required to write regularly. It hasn’t been a case of not being bothered or making excuses. It’s been a case of other things taking necessary priority at the time. I am determined figure out ways to stop that from being the case again though, as difficult as that can be at times.
After a dream that I woke up from with an unshakable feeling of rightness, I said to my husband, “I think I need to do the writing thing, like really do it, cause I should, finally”. He replied, “Good. I’ve only been telling you that for fifteen years”. The other night I was catching up with a friend who I hadn’t seen since before I quit my job in November and he asked how I was, what my plans were. I mentioned writing more and he asked what shape that writing would take, fact or fiction, books or screenwriting. I didn’t know. I still don’t know. To be honest, I probably won’t know for a while. But when he said “fiction”, if I had been a cartoon character a light bulb would have appeared above my head and pinged into brightness.
I’ve never really written much fiction. It’s always been an occasional occurrence where I start writing and realise that the words aren’t really about me. It’s not that I can’t write fiction or that I find it massively difficult. I’m accustomed to getting into other people’s heads. It’s just that memoir, opinion and even marketing are where my words naturally land when I throw them out into the world. Writing fiction regularly would be a gigantic shove out of my comfort zone, off the comfort cliff and into Fuck, this is terrifyingly unfamiliar. What am I doing? space. And that is as good a reason as any to do something.
I bet this is the bit where you thought I was finally going to start working on the novel I’ve been meaning to write since forever. It’s not (yet). It’s the bit where I make a firm decision to challenge myself and make a commitment to write fiction every day for a month. I found the writing prompts above (thank you Mia Botha at Writers Write) and they seem like the perfect way to make sure I don’t fall into the trap of only writing what comes easily.
I’m not sure whether I’m going to post what I write on my blog every day but I’m going to try. It freaks me out a little bit to post what are likely to be unpolished, unfinished, first drafts here but that’s part of the challenge – to get over the need for perfection and freely indulge my creativity and passion. The important things are that I am a) writing regularly, b) writing fiction, and c) kick-starting my commitment to writing more in a practical and structured way. Time, inspiration and practicality permitting, I also intend to take photos to accompany at least some of the prompt pieces because I start to go a bit crazy if photographer-me doesn’t get to play with writer-me.
When I think about this – the whole thing, not just the January writing prompts – I get that feeling. My favourite feeling. The crackling glow of potential, the unwavering sense of being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. It’s not that I assume it’ll be easy, that everything involved in “doing the writing thing” will fall into place with natural simplicity. I know it won’t. I know life doesn’t magically twist and shift itself to remove all obstacles. But I also know that if I want to do this (which I do), if I need to do this (which I do), then I have to make it my reality (which I will).
So this is it. A journey begins. The destination is a total mystery but at the start of the road there is a huge, flashing neon sign that says “Write more”.