I’ve noticed I spend an awful lot of time thinking about things I want to write, or doing research, but never quite dedicating the time needed to do the writing. I get distracted by so many things. The way the blog looks. The color of the links. The research. Deciding if the subject matter is worth the time investment. So many hours I spend just thinking about the act of writing that I end up never doing any actual writing. Last night just before I fell asleep, I decided to write a letter to myself. My mind was racing with a hundred thoughts… all of the memories that writing brought to me. The joy I felt, even if no one ever read a single word of what I wrote. In an effort to do something about actually writing, I’ll share the letter I wrote to myself.
Maybe you’ll find some inspiration too.
I want to talk to you about something kind of serious. Mostly because I know that it’s important to you. I’m not entirely sure how to address this with you, so I figured I’d just jump in and see how it goes. How does that sound? Okay?? Why did you stop writing? You used to write all the time. You used to give up other things to sit down and write. Now writing seems to take so much effort and time that you just let it go. It’s like it’s not worth your time anymore. When did this happen, I wonder?
Do you remember when you were in the 3rd grade, when your class made these weird puppets as an art project? Yeah, I remember too! Do you remember how Mrs. Lewis put you guys into small groups of 4-6 and as a group you had to come up with a puppet show. The key point was that you had to show comprehension of what you had read in any of the books that year. Remember how you wrote the entire play, based on Island of the Blue Dolphins? I definitely remember that your group did so well that they were requested to tour other classrooms and put on this so-called play for other students.
Do you remember when you were younger and your dad brought home that ridiculous typewriter? You sat there for hours trying to figure out how to type on only half a page so you could tappy-tap out little books. You would write stories where you and your sister were heroines; the stars of their lives. Sometimes they were romantic stories where you married Jordan Knight. No matter what the story was, you loved spontaneously creating and weaving a story. Even if no one but your dad read it.
Do you remember the first time you did NaNoWriMo? Do you remember the thrill you got going to the meet-up? How there was this motley bunch of would-be writers, and no matter what they looked like, or what their non-writer job was, everyone was there for one reason and one reason only. To write in a small, packed coffee house with other crazy people who didn’t see the insanity of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. You also didn’t see anything wring with calling a retired, old psychiatrist your friend. You helped him figure out his email, and he took you to The Tonight Show where you sat in some amazing seats and watched Garbage play on stage. You loved that silly old man, and not because he was the bass guitarist’s father and you met Shirley Manson in the green room backstage of the NBC studios. It makes for a great story, but you were friends with Phil, who was one of the first Nanoers you ever met.*
Do you remember Cybele? You went and saw her play performed in a small theater somewhere in Hollywood. You were so proud of her, of knowing her, of being part of the support system that was there for her. It was created from that Nano group and flourished.
It seems you’ve forgotten why you loved writing. Do you remember writing for hours and hours? Millions of words you’ve written, on blogs before they had a name! When it was considered a diary. You wrote not because you wanted anyone to read it, but because you loved writing. It made you feel something. It made you want to share it, on paper, on screen. Some of your entries got hundreds of comments, many of which were blank; an acknowledgement of having read the words you wrote. Other entries no one ever read. You wrote comedy at times. Tragedy other times. You shared stories of your life. You shared your heart. You weren’t afraid of what people thought, because you understood that you would never please everyone.
So what happened?
When did you start caring if people would read your stuff? When did writing become such a chore? How did you lose the momentum and drive? Those million-plus words you wrote don’t matter right now. You need a million more. And another million after that. How did you forget what it was like to write something, hit publish, and just walk away? Knowing that it didn’t matter if no one read it or hundreds of people read it. You did the writing and that was all that mattered.
I know you’ve been going through a lot lately. Remember your dream? The one you always answered if anyone asked you what is the one thing you wanted to do with your life? You always answered to be a writer. You wanted to live on some remote island and write. What happened to that?
Hey Lee, do yourself a favor. Remember. And start writing again. You can thank me later.
* Yes this is a true story.