“Many of the aspiring writers I know talk about writing more than they actually write. Instead of setting free the novel or short story or essay that is sizzling at the ends of their fingers, desperate to set fire to the world, they fret about writer’s block or about never having the time to write.”
So says Silas House in the New York Times, and I am guilty of this just as much as any of the writers he talks about. It is far easier to say, at the end of the day, “I’m just so tired, I don’t have the energy to think anymore,” and then flop uselessly in front of the TV or facebook. And then complain that university keeps you far too busy to get any writing done. Instead, Silas House argues, real writers have to find a way to balance their life and their writing, to multitask so they really do get something done. And to do that, he goes on to say, writers need to develop the skill of being still inside their heads while the world is whirling on around them.
The very best writing I’ve ever done is when I’ve achieved that stillness, when I don’t tune out the world around me but absorb details of what’s going on and use them to make my story better. I find myself attempting to balance while standing up on the bus and trying to write notes on my inspiring new ideas. I get stared at in the passport office for scribbling notes for my next scene in my novel on the back of an envelope. Every detail of everyday life suddenly seems relevant, and can be turned just so to add more detail to your story, and your story just gets more filled out and life-like as a result. But I certainly don’t experience this 24/7. Far more often, writing well is difficult, and everyday life almost wipes out both opportunity and ability to write well.
But there is something to be said for being able to be still, to balance out life’s demands inside your head and focus on producing something that truly could “set fire to the world.” Stillness something we could use more of in our fast-paced world. This is something I hope to focus on getting better at, once the craziness of exam season is over.
How do you think writers can overcome the demands of everyday life and actually get some writing done?