Just Write Some Words, You’ll Feel Better: Writing as a Practice
“Just write some words, you’ll feel better,” said no normal person ever. A writer, however, says this.
Specifically, I’m saying this to myself right now. I’m alone tonight. My son is with his dad. It’s just me and the cat. I have no reason to not write. At least no good reason. So even though I’m tired and it’s getting late and I can hear my pillow singing from the bedroom, I must convince myself to write. If I don’t write right now and I won’t write later, and ultimately I’ll feel like shit. I’ll feel really fucking guilty that during an entirely available and free evening to get some words down, I chose to close my eyes instead. So, just write, I have to tell myself.
Yes, you fluffy pillow I can hear you beckoning me. I know you want to surround my cranium in comfort. I want to let you. I want to succumb to your whispers and lullabies. I want to allow you to caress my hair and cradle me into sleep. But I need to write.
The fact that I’m typing and not sleeping is proof of my discipline.
Kind of. I mean I’m not writing the great American novel right now obviously. I’m not working on my memoir either. I am quite literally writing a post on writing to get the writing done. If I just write, just get some words down, I’ll feel better. It doesn’t matter that this post is not amazing. It doesn’t matter that this isn’t going to be a part of my book. What matters is I made the decision to write over doing something else. Sleeping in this instance.
Tomorrow it could be choosing to write over doing the dishes. Or choosing to write over watching the next episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. I mean, I really want to know if she tells Josh she’s in love with him even though I’m really rooting for grumpy Greg. Tomorrow maybe I won’t just write posts about writing for the sake of writing, but I will be adding new words to my memoir. Or new words to the novel I started. Or crafting some new children’s book. Tomorrow could be a more successful writing day.
The point is that like anything practice makes perfect. Actually, perfect practice makes perfect, but whatever. Perfect isn’t the point right now. The point is doing it: just write.
Show up for your passion. Show up for the thing you love even though plenty of other things seem less taxing, or more important. Like sleeping. It’s like people who both love and hate to run – I am among that group. They tend to feel better after they’ve done it even if it was painstaking to get them to do it in the first place. They feel better because they feel energized; they’ve done something that is physically good for the maintenance and health of their body and mind. They feel good emotionally because they didn’t bail on their own plan. They followed through and did it.
There is no guilt later about not doing it. Because when you don’t and know you should have, the guilt starts to stack up. Then more guilt tacks on when not only did you not do it, but then you ate a cheeseburger and had ice cream right before bed. And then even further guilt when the next morning you didn’t run because you woke up with indigestion caused by the burger and ice cream and nothing could be worse than going for a run with the risk of letting out burger and ice cream farts.
You get where I’m going here right? (What I lost you with burger and ice cream farts? You’re so easily distracted…)
Like running, writing for me is a part of my body and mind maintenance plan. It’s a part of my wellness initiative. It improves my well-being when I do it and gives me license to say “I’m a writer” and have that be true. Because I did write today. And I did write yesterday. And I will write tomorrow. For each day that I show up for my word-workout, I become a healthier, stronger, more resilient writer. And happier.
No writing + lounging around avoiding writing = not reaching book goal IS GREATER OR EQUAL TO No work out + cheeseburgers and ice cream = failing weight loss goal. So, just write.
When I write, I do feel better.
Because I engaged with the activity that I most love. From the ink on a piece of paper to the sound of my fingers furiously hammering the keys. (Yes, furiously and hammering. I’ve been accused of being a rapid and angry typer. Just ask the geeks I work with.) From the generation of a post for my blog – like this one – to a post for another blog to my memoir. From the research and the brainstorming to the drafting and revising. From the minutia of combing through and choosing a different word or restarting sentences to avoid word repetition throughout a paragraph.
I dig this world of words.
When I’m really getting in there, really showing up to do the job, it feels so amazing. When I’m done, I feel freer to go on to the next thing. Sleep. Dishes. TV. Free of the guilt. Free of the nagging that I should have written instead. Free of the blank white page judging me because I ignored it. Free of the self -criticism and shaming that I’ll never reach my own goals if I continue to make those poor choices.
But even in knowing that I’ll feel so much better after writing, I still have to push myself. I still have to force myself to just sit my ass down and get some words down. Especially on a night where that pillow is looking luscious and tempting. The dishes are screaming at me from the sink because they prefer to be clean. The TV nearly turns itself on in efforts to give me resolution to the looming questions about those characters that I’m just itching to know.
None of those things are going to propel my career forward. No one else is going to put my words down for me.
So I just keep telling myself “just write some words, you’ll feel better.” Like I did ten minutes ago when I started this post. 1,221 words later and here I am. Twelve hundred more words as a practicing writer. One more post generated for my blog. One more piece for a reader to enjoy. (Or hate. Don’t care which, really. They’d have to read it to feel something either way and the reading is the main point.)
Now, not only do I feel better that I forced myself to write, I feel really fucking good about the outcomes of having done so: the guilt-free sleep ahead of me; the words on the page as proof I chose wisely; and the steps towards the end game.
Hey there Fluffy. Yeah, I’m looking at you now. Want to cuddle? I’m ready to sleep now.