In this newsletter issue, we’ll talk about doing writing your way (even if it’s Binge Writing), giving a creative gift to yourself for Valentine’s Day, and what’s happening with Stella.
Years ago I dated a man who was recently separated after a long relationship. He asked me for advice about doing his laundry.
“I just throw everything in the machine with some soap,” I told him. “Seems to work.”
“But when I do that, my underwear turns pink,” he said.
“Yeah, so what?” I asked.
He soon found a girlfriend who, bless her heart, explained Best Laundry Practices to him but did not wash his clothes.
I remembered that episode this morning while I was – you guessed it – sorting dirty laundry by color. Even though laundry is usually my partner’s chore, and he does a great job.
Hmmm… could my unnatural diligence have had something to do with the fact that I was supposed to be writing?
Like lots of people, I have a hard time glueing my butt to the chair, turning on the computer, turning off internet distractions, and getting down to the nitty gritty of churning out words. Yes, my book about writing (Aphrodite’s Pen: The Power of Writing Erotica after Midlife) blithely advises scheduling an hour a day and sticking to it. Just like every other writing coach advises.
So now a confession: I am a binge writer. Lock me in a room for twelve hours with some trail mix and sparkling water and I am good for thousands of words. But this business of writing regularly an hour a day does not work for me. I get antsy, I cheat and look at social media, I become way too interested in the view out my office window. One hour just does not feel like enough time to really immerse myself in words.
Yes, certainly, there are writers who write every day, on a schedule, and that is great. If it works for you, keep doing it! It’s a guarantee of steady progress in your craft, and continuous production. A daily practice also makes sure you actually become a writer, because, as we all know, a writer is someone who writes.
But not every writer does it that way. The poet Audre Lorde, who worked in a hospital, used to write lines of poetry on scraps of paper in between patients. Hemingway sometimes lay in bed all morning, coming up with just the right word (one word!). Zora Neal Hurston wrote her masterpiece, Their Eyes Were Watching God, in six weeks between jobs as a hotel maid.
So my new advice, fresh off the press, is pay attention to what works for you, even if it is different from the guidance you hear and read. If you need total silence to write, turn everything off. If you are distracted by the internet, by all means unplug it. And if, like me, you need the luxury of a big block of time, plan that block once or twice a week, instead of booking an hour a day. You may be amazed by how much you accomplish when you clear your schedule of everything but writing.
It is your life, your muse, your call. Do it your way.