Sunday, April 1, 2012

Make Like a Nun and Get Your Writing Habit On

What habit might that be, you ask?  Is it:

The habit of sitting down to write at the same time in the same location each and every day even though Spring is here and your hands would rather be digging in the dirt than pounding on the keys?

The habit of editing a draft over and over again until reading another sentence of your precious baby threatens to make red ink bleed from your eyes?

The habit of telling yourself to keep going even when all your friends are down at Wormy Pete's Mexican Dump swimming in margaritas?

The habit of turning off the Internet and the endless writing advice because there's really only one valuable piece of writing advice in the universe, which is:

Make like a nun and get your writing habit on.  

Meaning be nun-like in your approach to writing.  

How's that, you ask? 

Like a nun, we must be singly devoted to one purpose: our writing.  This is obviously easier said than done what with full time jobs, families, houses to clean and dogs to walk.  With illness and taxes and floods and eighteen dollar a gallon gasoline.  And Jersey Shore on the television.  

Yet, when I think of how nuns devote themselves to a lifetime of developing and strengthening their personal relationship with God, it reminds me of the intimate commitment required of writers.    

And faith.  There's a whole lot of faith involved with writing: in yourself, in your work, in your readers even when you don't have a one.  Faith in things to come even when the "to come" keeps taking long and longer to arrive.

Maintaining that faith day in and day out, year after year can be the difficult part, even as your writing develops and your confidence as a writer grows.  Just as the the nature of the world must make maintaining faith difficult for even the most devoted nuns, writers too may suffer a crisis of faith.

Ever changing markets and technology and trends and fads conspire to befuddle and mislead writers down a terrible rabbit hole of doubt and confusion.

In those dark days, when rejection and uncertainty be thy middle name, fear not the unknown and take comfort in the one thing that has sustained you time and time again: the writing.  

Then go into that solitary, nunnery of a writer's space, close the door and open the computer.  Bow your head, place your hands on the keys and get your habit on.



Laura W. said...

OMG your title. I am so stealing that for when I need a clever quote. ;)

This was just what I needed right now. I need to get into a habit, so that it's not as easy to fall out of it. I find that when I stop writing, it's harder to get back into it.

Chris said...

Great reminder! You could sell inspirational posters for writers, featuring this title in all caps. OK, I'm kidding, but this is excellent advice.

Hallie Sawyer said...

LOVE THIS POST! It has to be one of my faves on writing. Such, such solid advice. Being a nun has never sounded so appealing. :)

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