I’m so pleased to have Deborah Kalan back here at Choices. Since we met in a Pilates class about a year and a half ago, our friendship has blossomed. We get together socially with our husbands, and we always have our writing projects to talk about. Yet, sometimes life events seem to interfere with our writing. Deborah tells how the obstacles play havoc on her determination to keep sitting in her chair in front of her computer. They are wise words indeed.
How to Begin Your Daily Writing
(when you just don’t think you can)
by Deborah Kalan
There are three obstacles that often interfere with my writing.
1. Getting started
2. Going back to a previously written piece
3. Staying focused
Some days I’ll flip open my computer and what do I see in front of me? No, not a blank page. That would be easy. What I see is my Yahoo page with a multitude of hooking headlines. “Sex Prequel Casts New Samantha,” “Coolest Vending Machine Ever,” “Dogs See in Color,” and other distracting previews. Then, as long as I’m there, I click on my inbox to see if anyone is sending me some oh-so- important news or information that can’t wait another second to be read. After taking 15 or 20 minutes to scan all of the minutia and delete 98% of it, I quickly and guiltily log onto my Facebook page to ogle over the mostly unimportant self-serving posts of my seventy some odd ‘friends’. And still I haven’t written one single word.
Getting Back To Previously Written Pieces
When I am on a writing roll, I often finish a rough draft, or even 2nd or 3rd run through of a satisfying piece of writing. I’ll slap on a cursory title, save it to my documents and then I . . . forget about it. It could be a genius essay. It might be a poem that has a chance for a Pulitzer. But I put it somewhere and forget where it is or even that I’ve written it at all. I could blame this on “old age,” but it’s honestly a matter of disorganization. Should I make a hard copy and file it in a colorful file folder marked “to be revisited?” Should I leave it on my desktop where I will see it the next time I open my computer?
I know I have many pieces saved and filed and forgotten. If I could find a way to organize the work that I have completed, I would find some well written buried treasures.
I now decide to get down to business and open a blank page to start writing. If I’m not in the middle of a piece I have been working on, I often go to one of my writing sights that I subscribe to for inspiration. Maybe I’ll go to Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetics Asides Blog with the intention of finding a poetry prompt. Instead I start to read about an old Welsh poetic form called a gwawdodyn, or a more commonly known one called a sestina. I learn the formula and read some examples of the forms. I make a mental note to try these when I get some extra time.
Then I remember that I the online newsletter from “We Wanted to Be Writers” arrived this morning. I open it and get dizzy with the distraction of a dozen bright blue highlighted links. There are book reviews and lists of books related to the review. There are interviews and blog posts. There’s a calendar of events and words of advise. There’s gossip and anecdotes. I click link upon link and find myself falling down Alice’s hole to the center of the earth where it’s almost impossible to climb back out. Thirty minutes later I’ve become a well informed writer on a wide range of topics but I have yet to begin my daily writing.
I need to call upon my writing genie. You know, the one who pops out of my laptop to encourage me to stay focused, help me organize my work, and stop reading about writing and start writing.
Like any goal in life that you want to perfect, you need to show up, go through the motions, and keep at it. Then repeat the process until it becomes your habit and you get better at it.
Just do it!
Deborah has been writing about real life since she was in the fifth grade and received a diary with lock and key for her 10th birthday. Even at that young age she found that people in ordinary situations made for intriguing writing. Deborah also writes poetry and fiction and finds the short short story to be one of her favorite genres.
She has been married for 42 years, consecutively, and has two married children and two amazing grandchildren. She likes to describe her dual California residences as living “bi-coastal." One home is near the coast of Manhattan Beach and the other is near the “coast” of Calabasas Lake.