In the fourth season of Bewitched, in an episode called “No Zip in My Zap”, Samantha is in a bit of a conundrum as her magical powers are clogged given Darren’s insistence that she live a mortal life.
In that episode, when “the dam breaks”, the accumulation of spells that didn’t conjure up anything all bear fruit at the same time, creating chaos in the Stephens’ household. “Doctor Bombay, Calling Doctor Bombay…”
As a writer, has that ever happened to you?
I am delighted that at this time in my life I am able to keep sharpening my writing skills in the corporate environment, while in my free time, producing a steady stream of blog posts, while working (slowly) on a few creative writing projects.
I am very happy with that combination and am not pressuring myself to do more. This works for me, right now.
By regularly tapping into my creative spirit in different ways, I feel that I am answering my calling and preparing for the next chapter in my writing life. But that has not always been possible.
Have you ever had those times when the ideas are flowing and you are yearning to write, but life just keeps throwing you curve balls preventing you from doing what you love most?
It was in my 40’s when I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that writing was my calling, that I started missing it when other priorities got in the way. It’s what I like to call “life” and included many fine activities and experiences, including a career I enjoyed (that I still enjoy today). Just the same, I felt a dam building in my creative subconscious with ideas floating around with no outlet.
I admit that it made me restless, it made me grouchy, and the yearning to write only got stronger. In itself, that’s not exactly a bad thing, it just brings greater clarity when figuring out what one’s passion is.
From my experience with running, it is a similar feeling to when an athlete is sidelined due to an injury. The mind and desire are intact, but the body or circumstances (or both) aren’t cooperating which can be most frustrating.
It was in that literary abstinence that my conviction to find time to write became even stronger with the promise to never take that time for granted.
We all hear about “1000 words per day” or “an hour per day” as potential goals, and they are indeed fantastic goals for maintaining discipline. But sometimes those goals don’t fit when responsibilities and commitments rank higher on the priority list.
It surprises me how it only takes a commitment to a few minutes per day to write something… anything… even if it’s just committing ideas to one index card, can help keep the creative juices flowing and prevent the dam from building.
With smaller achievable goals, you can still respond to the calling, you can still see progress, and the pressure to write doesn’t keep building.
For example, there have been days when I have been intensely writing or proofreading at my day job, that the desire to play with words when I got home was just not there. It took time to reconcile my feelings about that, but I’m OK with that now. I realize now that it is all contributing to the improvement of my writing skills and writing reflexes.
In times when I don’t feel like writing, there are other things I can do to keep nurturing my creative spirit whether that means picking up a good book, watching a really good movie, a good documentary or any form of storytelling that keeps inspiration thriving. But if I can still scribble on an index card a few passing thoughts that hit me through the day, I can consider it a productive writing day.
Some might argue that the aspiring writer needs to “make time” for it, and to a certain point I agree, but when there is no wind in your sails left at the end of the day for yourself, it’s very hard.
I find that it’s about striking a balance between harnessing the desire and the discipline to keep writing, even when life is at its busiest, but only for the time we can wholeheartedly allocate for it. Then we need to feel good about our accomplishment, not guilty about it for making the time, and not guilty for not doing more.
Once the stream of ideas is flowing steadily, even at a slow trickle, I find that the creative spirit adapts to the time allocation, to the point of looking forward to that time and really making the most of it for riding the wave of creativity.
When life makes it hard to find the time, the writer needs to work within one’s means to keep the creative juices flowing, or risk clogging up their creativity and their “powers”. When the writer does successfully commit words to paper, magic can happen.
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Have a great day,