Good Stuff for Writers, 9/21

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Hi writer friends,

Next week I’m taking myself on a little solo writing retreat. I have a cabin booked in the high desert of eastern Oregon next to some natural hot springs and not much else. I’m bringing books and snacks and the typewriter I just had repaired, and I’m taking four days to focus on a creative project that has no deadlines, no ties to my monthly income goals, no editor waiting on copy.

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It’s so hard to make time for this kind of writing—even though we’ve all heard the advice on how to do so. Just write for ten minutes a day, they say. Write first thing in the morning, they say. Three hundred words a day adds up!

And they’re right—those suggestions are very helpful if you consistently do the damn thing. But for whatever reason, even ten minutes a day or 300 words or whatever small increment of productivity I try to give myself on this seems extremely hard lately.

That’s because the pressure of deadlines and pitching and bills are so much louder than my own, self-conscious desire to write a book. They’re loud first thing in the morning. They’re loud when I’m trying to write just 300 words. They’re always shouting at me about other things that need to be done and this nebulous blob of a story does not need to be done.

But it does. For my sanity. For the sake of why I became a writer.

So I’m taking a few days to hide from all those extremely loud responsibilities, and hopefully I’ll be able to hear this other kind of writing tell me what it wants to be.

When I get back—it really is time to commit to a daily practice.

But for now, I think this might be helpful to consider: Your creative ideas deserve to be prioritized. And sometimes they need a little more luxury than the cramped space between breakfast and your first Zoom meeting. Sometimes, you gotta treat your creative self to something special. Maybe that’s as simple as blocking off one day next week to focus on that essay or that book idea you’ve been mulling over. Buy some fancy candles, make some kind of scrumptious snack, and leave your calendar OPEN. When we find ways to prioritize our creativity, I think we become better writers and better versions of ourselves. And then that creative work becomes easier to return to regularly, for ten minutes or four days at a time—whatever feels right.

That’s the hope at least. No pressure.

I asked Twitter how to make the most of this experience, and a handful of writers offered some really lovely advice. Hopefully I’ll come back with more to share on that.

And since we all still need paid work, let’s get to it…

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Words of Wisdom

I love a good quote on writing. So, say hello to a new section of OMQ:

I tell them they’ll want to be really good right off, and they may not be, but they might be good someday if they just keep the faith and keep practicing. And they may even go from wanting to have written something to just wanting to be writing, wanting to be working on something, like they’d want to be playing the piano or tennis, because writing brings with it so much joy, so much challenge. It is work and play together. —Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

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That’s all for today, friends. I’ll be back in your inbox later this week.

Stay inspired,