What is it about writing that when we don’t do it, we feel so guilty?
Is it because it’s our dream, it’s what we love, it’s what makes us feel happy and whole so that when we don’t do it, we feel as though we are letting ourselves down?
I’ve been feeling so bad because I haven’t been writing. Just don’t have the time. Working on so many other projects that are all business oriented but not creative writing oriented. Yet, it’s the creative writing that makes me happy.
Oh, WHY do we torment ourselves? Why does NOT writing make me depressed?
I sent this message out to some of our past Art of Writing retreat writers this week. I was feeling so dejected, despondent and rather despairing about not doing enough (or any) creative writing. Emails, social media, other projects, my darling children’s needs, all sorts of things were stopping me from doing even 30 Minutes a Day.
Then I got these answers back, and they made me feel so much better.
From Christine Harris:
I’m relieved to hear that I am not the only one going through this. I think it also has to do with this time of the year. As Kate and I have discussed, it is a time to declutter and regroup. And yes, we have to be easier on ourselves. For me, life is simply taking precedence and that is what is important at the moment. I’m over the guilt. I have joined a Mastermind group of entrepreneurial women and it will definitely raise the bar and hold me accountable, while being supported by 11 amazing, creative souls. Similar to our Art of Writing dynamic in Casentino. It is wonderful to see all these emails from a cherished group. Let’s please keep the communication going as it is inspiring in itself.
And this from Kate Anders who set up a writers group upon her return to the US from the Art of Writing in Tuscany:
I had just written to Lisa complaining of writer’s malaise when a former student of mine posted something by Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman wrote the 2009 Newbery Award Winner: The Graveyard Book. He wrote Coraline and other novels and short stories and contributes to the New Yorker, among a million other things. I’m going to share his answer with my writer’s group, The Page Dwellers. May it inspire you to grab a white crow and steel the golden berry. Enjoy!
Below is Neil Gaiman’s answer to the question: “I have been trying to write for a while now. I have all these amazing ideas, but it’s really hard getting my thoughts onto paper. Thus, my ideas never really come to fruition. Do you have any advice?”
Write the ideas down. If they are going to be stories, try and tell the stories you would like to read. Finish the things you start to write. Do it a lot and you will be a writer. The only way to do it is to do it.
I’m just kidding. There are much easier ways of doing it. For example: on the top of a distant mountain there grows a tree with silver leaves. Once every year, at dawn on April 30th, a tree blossoms with five flowers, and over the next hour each blossom becomes a berry, first a green berry, then black, then golden.
At the moment the five berries become golden, five white crows, who have been waiting on the mountain, and which you will have mistaken for snow, will swoop down on the tree, greedily stripping it of all its berries, and will fly off, laughing.
You must catch, with your bare hands, the smallest of the crows, and you must force it to give up the berry (crows do not swallow the berries. They carry them far across the ocean, to the enchanter’s garden, to drop, one by one, into the mouth of his daughter, who will wake from her enchanted sleep only when a thousand such berries have been fed to her). When you have obtained the golden berry, you must place it under your tongue, and return directly to your home. For the next week, you must speak to no one, not even your loved ones or a highway patrol officer stopping you for speeding. Say nothing. DO not sleep. Let the berry sit beneath your tongue.
At midnight on the seventh day you must go to the highest place in your town (it is common to climb on roofs for this step) and, with the berry safely beneath your tongue, recite the whole of Fox in Socks. Do not let the berry slip from your tongue. Do not leave out any of the poem or skip any of the bits of the Muddle Puddle, Poodle Beetle Noodle Bottle Paddle Battle.
Then, and only then, can you swallow the berry. You must return home as quickly as you can, for you have only half an hour at most before you fall into a deep sleep. When you wake in the morning, you will be able to get your thoughts and ideas down onto the paper, and you will be a writer.
So, a final message from me, Lisa Clifford, longtime Italy resident and a woman who spends most of her days alone, in her office, writing. Never underestimate the power of friends who also write. Nurture them and talk to them when you feel down. And to write, follow Neil Gaiman’s advice. Just do it.