Sometimes our routines are interrupted and skewed. We can’t watch our favorite television shows because our husbands want to watch soccer. We can’t fold our undergarments on the couch like we usually do because our mother in laws are over for coffee. We go to bed later than usual because we are out celebrating a friend’s birthday. We don’t floss because we forgot to pack it in our suitcase. We don’t work because we are on vacation. We don’t exercise because we are sick.
Last night, Mike and I went out for dinner, to officially celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary. It was definitely a break from our usual daily routine. We stowed our phones in my purse and didn’t speak a word about household chores, our house hunt, or our plans for the weekend. We even kept “church ministry talk” to a minimum. We forced ourselves to talk about our relationship, and our plans for the future. We squeezed past many “what ifs” concerning our future. A moment in our conversation that I hope I will never forget was when we asked one another what we would tell our kids, if and when we have any, about one another. Mike told me he would always refer to the fact that I’m a writer to defend my peculiar moods and outbursts. Great. In his mind, our kids will think I’m a weirdo. At least he’s already planned out an explanation for it. This rift in our routine was a welcome break from the norm. We had a great conversation and really enjoyed spending time with one another, spending some time away from the stresses of life that we all experience. Yes, I could’ve been going through our endless piles of laundry, washing the dishes, scrubbing the toilet, but those tasks were put on hold for a good reason.
A couple of weeks ago, we went to Montreal for a church conference, and then to Boston to visit some dear friends. It was a wonderful trip, during which I was able to catch up with some old friends whom I hadn’t seen in years, do some exploring, have a make-believe tea party with my best friend’s four-year-old, and spend time giggling late into the night with friends who have become family. Needless to say, coming from California, Mike and I were super jet-lagged. We took a red eye flight into Montreal, stayed up late each night, and woke up early each morning. It took a toll on us physically, but we were grateful for some time away from our usual routine. My body was tired, but my mind was energized with the new friendships we formed, and the new places we saw.
Friends, I tried to stay true to my promise. Every night, I grabbed my journal and my pen and sat in our hotel room trying to write. But I couldn’t. Not because I was exhausted, or because I wasn’t in my own bed. It was because my mind would wander. On some nights I went to the room while others were still awake to see if I could get some writing done. Other nights I would force myself to stay awake while Mike slept peacefully next to me, trying to will my brain to form sentences. Anything. Something new. Something to make it possible to come back to you all and tell you that despite the exhaustion and distraction that comes with going away, I was able to stick to my promise to you and to myself of writing every day. However, I couldn’t help but think about those who weren’t in their hotel rooms. Those who were out there, talking, laughing, living. So I put my pen down for the rest of the trip. After all, did my writing really matter? Did writing every day really encourage myself and others to be consistent? Did it inspire?
Then something happened. I was speaking with an acquaintance of ours, whom I hope I will get to know better in the near future. I don’t know much about her, but what I do know is that her smile is contagious. There’s a glint of magic in her eyes when she speaks, and she carries joy with her wherever she goes, and, from what I can tell, passes it on to those around her. In the middle of our conversation, she took a step forward to separate herself from the group we were in and told me that she reads my blog posts, and that they have inspired her to write every day, even if it’s just a little paragraph. I was stunned. There I was trying to ignore that part of myself, just for a few days. It wasn’t until later that evening that I realized how excited I was that my words have encouraged someone else to do the very thing that I tried to run away from…just for a short while. It felt like magic. And that magic has brought me back here. If you are reading this, thank you, and keep writing!
I recently came across a blog (http://anakarenchapa.wordpress.com/) whose author mentioned that her commitment to writing consistently was recently re-established because she happened to come across my blog by accident and was encouraged by it. Wow.
These are the things that push me to not only keep blogging about my creative writing journey, but to keep working on my fiction. Thank you to my old readers, and new readers alike. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to keep you accountable, and, in turn, keep myself accountable, to write something new every day. Feel free to leave comments as to how your own writing is coming along. I would love to hear about your writing schedules!
Writing is a solitary occupation, but when I realize that there are other writers struggling with the very same things that I struggle with as a writer, it makes me work harder. I know that sometimes, especially when we go on vacation, it is difficult to write every day. However, last week, I learned that taking some time away from your work, once in a while, is okay. Sometimes you need to step away from the story to give your mind a break. The truth is, your character will be there, waiting for you and ready to keep going when you return. So please, if you take a break, RETURN to your work!
Writers, and those of you who are trying to be disciplined and remain inspired in your endeavors, know that you’re not alone. Know that there will be days when you can only manage to get a single new sentence onto the page.
And that new sentence is a step forward–a small miracle.