Creativity Corner #5 — Best Week Ever

I’ve just finished what feels like my best week ever as a writer. I wrote two very different pieces (I’ve been working on both for two weeks) and I actually felt that they were more than just good; they might, in fact, be great.

Now when I say “finished,” I mean first drafts—not completed, ready to submit pieces, although I suspect they’re pretty close. And the rush of adrenaline, endorphins, whatever—elation!—coursing through me when I stepped away from the keyboard…well, it felt like I’d just rappelled down a waterfall and into a raging river. Not that I’ve ever done that, but my friend Melissa just did and posted such realistic pictures that I found myself holding my breath while scrolling through them.

Don’t get the idea that this two weeks of writing was all sunshine and buttercups. A lot of it was hard, especially the daily slog through the muck of my subconscious—the Willits have a swamp in my front yard. In fact, I think I only finished them this week because a writer friend stopped in for an overnight and seeing her working diligently at my dinner table made it impossible for me to pursue my usual goofing-off strategies. So I worked. And, to paraphrase a famous author, “She saw that it was Good.”

It’s funny, a couple of weeks ago, just before this writing spurt began, I had a free session with an energy coach. He works with people to unblock their stuff. About halfway through the call, he started talking about “the pain of writing.”

“Hold up, mister,” I said—or words to that effect. Writing is harder some times than others, but I don’t see it as painful. He reframed his question a couple of times, but I didn’t bite. And it wasn’t resistance; it was my truth.

Writing is not always easy, but it’s my choice to do it and I’m not in the habit of choosing pain. Work, yes; struggle, sometimes. Sometimes you spend more time playing Candy Crush than writing. But that’s not pain; it’s part of the process.

Have you ever felt that elation? Had a “Best Week Ever”? What’s it like for you?

Ignoring the Willits — another 90-Day Writing Challenge in the books

no Willits allowedIt’s only been a month or so since I introduced you to the Willits, surely the most annoying creatures on the planet. The Willits always pop by unannounced—generally about two or three sentences into whatever I’m writing. And they don’t just tiptoe in. They announce themselves loudly, asking unanswerable questions:

Will it move anyone?
Will it be coherent?

And, of course—always—

Will it sell?

I called these unanswerable questions. They’re also completely irrelevant.

How will your audience receive you work—will it move them? will they buy it?—you have about as much control over that as you do over the wind. The middle question—will people understand your writing—you have a modicum of control over that one. But you don’t have to think about it—in fact, you should never think about it—until the first draft is done and it’s time to revise.

Writers ignoring the Willits

A dozen writers entered the 90-Day Writing Challenge that wrapped up yesterday. One of them never started; two of them dropped out in the first week. The rest navigated life and the Willits as best they could. And, believe me, life and the Willits threw everything but the kitchen sink at these people.

Two writers finished the full 90 days; a third completed her commitment of writing Monday through Friday for 13 weeks. One writer made it all the way to 70 days before life intervened—and then started a new streak the very next day. Another writer missed the full 90 by two days. Together, they raised $610 for their favorite charities in the U.S. and abroad. And they did something important for themselves. As one writer put it,

“It is amazing the benefits I have got from doing this – not just writing but positivity, focus, clarity and peace of mind.”

Positivity, focus, clarity, and peace of mind—the Willits hate those things.

Willits, Willits everywhere

Even if you write every day as I do (Day 522 yesterday), the Willits will still pop in. But they’re much less likely to stay if you have a goal, a commitment—to yourself, to your client, to a class. If your attitude is I’ll write this when I feel like it, the Willits will hijack your attention in a heartbeat. So set yourself a goal that matters—and pound your NO WILLITS sign firmly into the front lawn.

Staying on course is always easier when you have a supportive community. That’s one of the reasons my Writing Unbound course combines live group discussions with watch-at-your-own-schedule videos. Click the link, fill out the application, and let’s talk. If you need a Willit-free zone, we can help you create one.

Writing vacation — my week with the Willits

I met some new people on my writing vacation, the Willits. I didn’t much care for them.

I’d set myself up to have five glorious days unencumbered by client responsibilities. Time to make some serious headway on a personal project. And then I met the Willits. Annoying as all get-out.

Every time I sat down to write, one or more of them would appear:

Will it be any good?
Will it make you a laughingstock?

and the worst Willit of all:

Will it sell?

Plenty of time to answer all of those questions after the first draft. Yes, I knew enough to remind myself of that every time they popped in. Still, having to swat away “will it” questions every time you write a sentence…it’s hard to keep your focus. And the last question—I mean, any rational analysis of the publishing industry would tell you the answer to that is no. But I’m still gonna write, dammit.

I told each Willit in the strongest possible terms that none of them mattered right now. Right now, my job is just to write. They still came back. And brought their relatives.

Writing vacation surprise!

writing vacation
No Willits (2017), fine-line marker on hotel note pad

If you haven’t already met the Willits, I hope you never do. They’re a bunch of nosy bastards. But they surprised me when they showed up, because my writing life is mostly Willit-free.

When I blog every day, I open up my browser, find the appropriate web page, and most often words fall out of my fingers. Occasionally they’re good words, more often they’re merely acceptable. But I write them anyway. If people get some value out of the blog, that’s great. Will it move people?…Actually, I don’t worry a whole lot about that.

You might imagine the Willits would show up when I write for my clients:

Will it be acceptable?

But I don’t worry about that either. Because I know—and, most importantly, my clients know—that it’s a first draft. And first drafts are for experimenting, for pushing the proverbial envelope. For failing, even.

No harm, no foul; no Willits.

Of course, the writing I do for my clients isn’t personal, not to me. My blogging gets personal occasionally and, now that I think of it, I have seen a few Willits in my peripheral vision when I write pieces like this.

But I wasn’t prepared to host the Willit Family Reunion during my writing vacation this week—four generations, setting up picnic tables and volleyball nets all over my lawn. They had a blast. Me, not so much.

Next time I’ll be prepared. I’m making some lawn signs.

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