Last evening I read a book about writing. More specifically it was a book about preparing to write. The author wrote about her pre-writing ritual of clapping hands, jumping up and down, and repeating to herself “Yes, yes, yes, this is what I want to do.”
She talked about having a comfy office in which to write, a favorite pair of shorts, postcards from a holiday she had taken. It all sounded very nice but I seriously doubt she has ever had to balance a herd of kids along with her writing schedule.
This is how I prepare to write.
I kiss the youngest child good-bye as she boards the school bus and then as soon as those yellow pneumatic doors close, I race into my office and start writing. I’d like to say that I have some sort of ritual but to be perfectly frank here, I don’t have time for that, I have kids coming back home in just a few hours. A. Few. Hours.
I have to write.
When I was in college, I did all that ritual stuff. I thought I was someone. I couldn’t write unless I was wearing my ratty green shirt. I had to have a cup of tea in front of me (more often than not laced with whiskey – I mean come on – all the big writers drank). But you know what it got me? The same amount of red ink on my essay as that loser down the hall whom we all knew couldn’t string more than two sentences together.
Just because I had a ritual it didn’t make me a writer.
Rituals do not the writer make. Focused time spent writing and doing nothing else but writing is what made the man (or in this case the woman). It doesn’t matter. I’ve learned if I have 6 hours or only 15 minutes to write then I better write.
Because if I don’t then I’m simply not a writer.
Although the book on writing was smart in its marketing with its promises of prodigious output if you followed the formula (hey, she got me to buy it), instead of the suggested rah-rah-rahing of myself to write, simply recognizing that if I don’t write I don’t get paid is incentive enough for me.