Tag Archives: pressure

When Life Gets in the Way of Writing

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.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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How Old Blog Posts Can be Like Old Home Movies

This fall, I celebrated my fifth year as a blogger with great joy (… and surprise) at having achieved this milestone.

From the beginning, I always thought of the blog as my rehearsal space to sharpen my creative writing skills, as I began the transition from full-time career #1 to full-time creative writer. The fact that many of you have joined me in that journey and encouraged me along the way has been incredibly heartwarming and a source of boundless gratitude. Thank you everyone!

I admit that some weeks it was incredibly difficult to find the time or inspiration (or both) to produce some fresh content, as well as to stay on top of my social media presence to get the word out there. But with only a few weeks off here and there, I managed to keep at it and to not give up. For that, I am incredibly proud!

When time has been in short supply, I had to focus my efforts on moving the blog forward, and not looking back. Then weeks turned into months, and months turned into years, and BOOM! Five years went by and I suddenly had a repertoire of almost 300 blog posts. How did that happen?

And that is where the fun began. When time finally permitted, I went back and read some posts from my first year. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Writing

Ruminating, Racing Thoughts and Overthinking

… or does “Overthinking, Racing Thoughts and Ruminating” sound better?

… or should I say, “Racing Thoughts, Ruminating and Overthinking”?

… or perhaps “Ruminating, Overthinking and Racing Thoughts?”

As someone who considers himself a proactive person, it is well within my nature to think things through before acting.

Not only do I want to avoid making mistakes, but when I make a decision, I’d like to think that I have been responsible, thoughtful, balanced, sensitive and kind.

I admit it, I don’t deal well with surprises. Getting blindsided sends steam shooting out of my ears. Getting pressed for quick decisions and reactions without the proper time to process the situation sends my blood pressure through the roof.

While I think others have more confidence in my handling of things than I do myself, perhaps it is a sense of not wanting to let people down by appearing unprepared, that I try to eradicate surprises before they happen.

But that’s exhausting. Anticipating every possible outcome is next to impossible and developing an action plan for every negative scenario is hard on the mind, body and spirit.
This is not to say I can’t be impulsive or spontaneous. I have a pretty good sense of what works for me and what doesn’t. Over 52 years, my gut has rarely steered me wrong. I just need to trust that instinct. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, mental health

My New Blogging Strategy: Banking Blog Posts

In 2015, I wrote about a weird phenomenon that was happening within my blogging processes. No sooner than I would start outlining and building a blog post, the little writer’s voice within would pitch another idea at me, and I would start working on that one.

Having a run of good ideas is certainly not a bad problem to have. I definitely counted my blessings in that regard. But in its wake, I was being left with a series of incomplete posts, a phenomenon I called The Graveyard of Blog Posts.

As summer began, I was itching to get to work on another creative writing project and wondered how I could keep the blog going for a couple of months while giving my writer’s voice a fresh challenge.

As I was browsing through my drafts folder, the list of posts that were waiting to be finalized had recently grown some more and was looking pretty impressive. I knew that some of them were just waiting for a final conclusion to nail the point I was trying to make or some “icing on the cake” wording to make it pretty.

The point is, I had several that were almost ready to be posted and patiently waiting in the wings.

Maybe that was my answer!

I made it my goal to try to finalize 8 or 9 posts over two weeks, which should give me enough completed weekly posts to put the blog on autopilot with fresh content until Labour Day, and a couple of months to let my mind wander in another creative direction. Continue reading

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A New Journey: Blogging in Public (Or The Fear Thereof)

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It is clear that when I write, I feel most at home when I am in the calm of the room I set aside for writing. I light a few candles, put on some mellow music, get a cup of tea (sometimes wine, depending on the time of day of course), get into some comfy clothing, take a few deep breaths and then let ideas flow.

Unfortunately life sometimes gets busy and finding the time to sit in my “happy space” is not always possible, yet Continue reading

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