Are certain seasons friendlier for writing than others? That’s a question I’ve been grappling with the past few months, particularly as we’ve expanded into summer.
For some folks, fall and winter tend to be a more internal time, and perhaps more well-suited for writing. Since spring and summer are often more social and active—filled with trips and outings, family and friends—these seasons can also be more full.
And it can be hard to find time to write when the rest of your life is overflowing with goodness.
This is one of those times writers find themselves grappling with the inevitable stopping and starting that comes with writing a book. It’s hard to get your butt into the chair when there are so many other things going on. The sun’s out, an old friend’s in town, etc., etc., etc.
I struggle with the same challenges, of course. In fact, I’d just gotten back into a more consistent writing schedule before we left for a family trip to the Tetons last week. And now I’m doing what every other writer does when she falls off the wagon.
Starting again. So Buddhist, right, but also so true. No need to make up a big story, no need to berate or torture myself as I did when I was younger, just start again.
Which isn’t to say it’s easy. Earlier this week, I carved out a few hours to dive back into my book. As I contemplated sitting down to write that night, my anxiety was sky high. (Um, yup. Never mind that I’ve been writing for the past 20+ years.) I paced around the house, foaming at the mouth a bit, doing my best to breathe. “This is what it looks when a writer’s trying to get back into her book,” I told Ken as he watched me twist and turn. “It’s not pretty.”
After mucking around for awhile, I finally sat down to write. About five minutes in, I felt way better. I could breathe again. I was (gasp) calm again, focused.
Easy, right? Ha!
But it is easier to get back in the saddle when you’re writing consistently.
That’s why I encourage writers to stick to a consistent writing schedule, as much as they’re able. Because it’s hard to dive back in when you’ve been out for longer and longer periods.
Routine matters. Your body starts to know what to expect. Writing a book is similar to running a marathon. Nobody starts with 26 miles. Instead, you start small—a few miles every day. Once your body knows what to expect, it’s so much easier. Because you stop fighting it. You just get up and do the work, no drama necessary.
Of course, we all get off training schedules at times. We take trips, host visitors, take that extra hour with someone special.
And then we jump back in. We recommit to our project. We start again by picking up the thread–or hell, by finding the stinking thread. From there, we take it one step at time.
Writing a book is a serious commitment, and writing a memoir (or any kind of personal story) isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not an easy process, but it is a highly worthwhile one.
It’s also one that requires a gestation period. The book, after all, needs to breathe and grow. Oftentimes, this surprises folks; maybe they weren’t prepared for the alchemy of the process. The book that we end up with is often different than the book we started out with.
For many authors, the process of birthing a book is life changing. Yes, the completed book deserves a celebration in itself, but I’m talking about something much deeper: the sense of trust that comes from completing a book. A realization that they’ve become a more fully-realized version of themselves. Stepped more fully into their power. There’s a deeper sense of self that I often see accompany the birth of a book.
Writing a book is quite a feat. It requires bravery, compassion, trust, support and a shitload of self-love. All of which is a process.
After all, a book is built one day at a time. One brick at a time, one paragraph at a time, and one shitty draft at a time.
As I recently heard someone say:
A page a day for one year equals a book.
Let that sink in for a moment. Sounds more doable now, doesn’t it?
Before we wrap up for the day, I want to send a shout-out to my two fabulous mastermind groups who’ve been toiling away on their memoirs this summer. These are some truly amazing women!
Like the rest of us, they’ve been starting and stopping, laughing and crying, and bleeding blood and fire as they delved into their stories. And they’re not done yet. They’re warriors on a powerful mission, and I’m honored to be able to work with them.
Please take a moment to celebrate them with me. Leave a message below or send some good juju/good wishes to one of our writers—or to any other writer out there.
Because stories are amazing, powerful, living things. And in today’s crazy world, we need them more than ever.
P.S. I’m pulling together a low-key membership site to help support a larger community of writers on a wallet-friendly scale. I’ll have more information for you in the next couple of weeks, but if you’re interested in learning more before then, ping me. In the meantime, sending you lots of love!