Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Writer's Life

I recently returned from a writing conference: three days of workshops and conversations with other writers, publishers, editors and agents. My mind is still spinning with the information and new ideas to process. Being around all that creativity stirs the creativity within me. I reflect on my own writing life as a result and realize it’s similar to the health-conscious life I lead with a forever focus on food, exercise and weight.

There’s an aspect of being a writer that is never ‘turned off’. Ideas are everywhere, when I’m awake and when I’m asleep; when I’m driving and when I’m in the shower; when I eat and even when I sit down to write. All those ideas need to be considered, indulged, sorted and shared. It reminds me of when I went to college part-time in the evenings. The only way to survive those eight long years of work towards the goal of that college degree was to accept what felt like the never-ending nature of school assignments. The only break was between semesters, but during those class sessions, there was always something else to read, something to write, something to study for.

The role of being health conscious, too, is never ‘turned off’. Food is everywhere, when I’m awake and when I’m asleep; when I’m driving and when I’m in the shower; when I write and even when I sit down to eat. All the food needs to be planned, purchased, cleaned, cut and cooked. Every day. Three times a day, at least. Unless I choose to fast for some period of time, there really is no break. Ever.

Another aspect of being a writer is the need for discipline within the creativity. Over and over again in workshops and conversations I hear about keeping our writing lives a priority; making sure to take the time to write whether or not the muse strikes. When writing is a paid job, there is attention to the task at hand; there is a tangible deadline and paycheck that results from the act of writing. When writing is part of a bigger goal, such as a book, there is the discipline required to persevere in its writing, editing and promoting. There is the unknown end date; the unknown deadline, but the need to continue remains intact. The need for daily attention to the writing task is simply disciplinary in nature.

Being health conscious is always disciplinary in nature. A self-professed lack of discipline is what causes most people to see the eating and exercising as ‘on’ or ‘off’ tasks, but instead there is more success in remaining healthy when we see the tasks as ‘forever’ tasks; never ‘off’. Only then can we gain the tenacity to stay with it day after day without throwing in the towel on our health efforts.

I claim the right to remain creative while being disciplined. I claim my identity as a health-conscious writer. Forever.

Tip of the Week:
To stay on my eating and exercise program, I really must pray. Not the ‘bless this food’ prayer rituals, but really pray. Every day. This week, I commit to revisiting the focus on prayer; making sure my prayer time is a higher priority than the million other things I need to do. Amen.

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