Monday, March 17, 2014

How Badly Do You Want to Write?

I realized, while thinking about this week's Monday post, that today marks my 50th post since starting this blog. Bloggers are sometimes authors, writing full-time or part-time with the hopes of making a living from their writing. More often than not, though, they're people who want to share thoughts, ideas, political views, or creativity. Bloggers are a little more informal in nature; some post inflammatory opinions; some post a photo with three lines of text; some, like me, have a hard time keeping posts limited to 1000 words or less.

Because my blog is centered around books, writing, and the writing process, I thought I'd share a little bit about a man who had his own style of informal writing: my dad.

My dad used to write poems when he needed to de-stress. Sometimes the poems rhymed; sometimes they were inner conversations or deeper thoughts. Some of them were observations on life, like how long he’d wait outside the bathroom door in a house full of women, or his thoughts on what butt cracks were good for. (Yes, he had quite the range of topics.) He’d write the poems on scraps of paper and tuck them into his basement workbench drawers. Once in a rare while, he’d give one to someone specific, usually when he was bothered by an event and worried about the person involved. It was his own way of encouraging by expressing his feelings in a non-verbal way. We'd always figured he wasn't a big talker because my mom was (and still is) the talker in the family, but I think he came from a generation whose men trained themselves not to react too extremely to anything—don't cry, don't move too quickly, don't talk too much or too loudly. (And with my mom's Italian side of the family, don't try to get a word in at all. You can't compete.) 


He was once given a blank journal to write in and never used it, claiming that its formal nature made him feel as if he had to write "better." Too much pressure. He was content with the free 4x5” tablets given out as freebies from drug reps, those campaigning for local offices, or advertising their appliance repair businesses. It didn't make a whit of difference to him whether he had pen or pencil, spiral-bound paper, post-it note, or a scrap of napkin. He wanted to write and that's all there was to it.

He never wanted to make money from it (and to be honest, his writing was not the type that would have made him any), and was almost embarrassed when anyone wanted to see what he'd written. He needed that outlet—but for him, it was a personal thing, not to be commonly shared.

The ups and downs of his life were journaled, one small paper at a time, from his younger, single-guy years in the military (with Elvis!), all the way up to when he died after a lifetime filled with wife, daughters, grandchildren, pets, neighbors and friends. He wrote about all of them. 

How badly do you want to write? Stop making excuses. Stop waiting for the perfect moment. Start getting the words out.


19 comments:

  1. Amen to that. Even when I was working 70-80 hours a week I still wrote. I carried a notepad in my back pocket, and any time I had even 30 seconds of spare time I'd be scribbling something down. I can't stand hearing excuses. If you want to write, then do it. I truly believe that the only one ever stopping you is you.

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    1. You've hit it. Thirty seconds is long enough to jot down a sentence or two. My dad's writing was never a "leave me in peace and quiet for three hours, I'm writing!" thing. He'd pop down to the basement, write what was on his mind, and continue with his day.

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  2. I write on the PC at work when creativity hits, then email the document to myself for later revisions. I write on the ferry when I commute. If an idea strikes my in the car (and I'm a passenger), I jot it down in my phones notepad.

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    1. Exactly! You work with what you have handy. Waiting for the "perfect" moment will never get results.

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  3. Lynda, you got this right. All we have to do is put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and we're off. I did NaNoWriMo last year, and it showed me how much I could write when I chose to (and that was while working full-time--I made it 62k words and am in revisions now).

    I first thought I started my blog to develop my author platform, but what I'm finding is it's really about the writing, bottom line. Being able to say what I want to with the only gatekeeper being my finger on the publish button (which is sometimes pushed with trepidation, but pushed nevertheless).

    My mom writes in a journal every day--she's retired and is a bird watcher, but does't have many other interests I'm aware of, but she still finds something to write about, every day. I've made her promise me not to get rid of her journals--I want to read them all whenever she sees fits to share them.

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    1. I find journal-keepers fascinating. Whether they write about the profound or the mundane, it's a great way for their children or grandchildren to sort of re-create the day-to-day things that flesh out the person they knew. It really is a discipline worth admiring.

      I've found (with my blogs) the more I write, the easier it gets. I can still take hours to write a simple post, but more often than not, the ideas flow easier with the regular act of writing.

      Thanks for the visit and the comment!

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  4. This post actually made my inner writer become emotional and happy at the same time. Good for your dad! I love the inspiration in this post, Lynda. Its hard for us to sometimes remember why we get into this. And his life journaled one small paper at a time? Too cool.

    I have a little notepad in my purse at all times and let's not eve try to count how many pens, but more often than not I just pull out my cellphone and make little notes on it. If its something lengthy and detailed, I still use my cellphone, but to email myself. Gotta love technology! But yeah, definitely no excuses are good enough to stop you from doing what you love. ;)

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    1. I can't tell you how many little papers we found, jammed in his workbench. They just kept falling out of places as we cleaned things out. I eventually organized them (as well as I could) and typed them all up in a little booklet for the grandkids. Most of the writings were short and silly, some were pretty irreverent, but all of them screamed, "PapPap wrote this." They loved it.

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    2. That is so cool! What a sweet idea.

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  5. Thanks for the advice. "Stop waiting for the perfect moment." I tend to do that...

    On the other hand, I also tend to send myself "notes" in the form of emails, so I guess I'm not a total loss.

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    1. I'd say your emails pull you firmly out of the "total loss" pit.

      I need to take my own advice, but not for writing...cleaning my house is my "wait for the perfect moment" thing when I have enough time to do it right. This may eventually come in the form of a snowplow in the living room as things tend to pile up...

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  6. What a good post, Lynda. Do you have any of your dad's poems?

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I have them all. They run the gamut from thought-provoking to "huh?" but they all make me smile.

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  7. Your dad sounds like an excellent role model for all of us. No excuses. Just write!

    Thanks for your visit to The Write Game. Great to see you there.

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    1. As it's great to see you here. I wish I could pull that "no excuses" thing into other areas of my life. As I keep going, the excuses sound more and more lame, even to my own ears, until they disappear entirely. That's the plan, anyway.

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  8. Eight years ago I almost died. That day, I learned that the "perfect moment" is every moment. I try to make the most of each. Lynda, you are a journal keeper. Each of your entries into this blog is a journal entry. You share many deep insights into who you are and what you are about. I just talk trash because I can. :) Ok, its getting too deep for me. My Marketing associates went out to get tissues. See ya thursday for coffee chat.

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    1. Perhaps you should send the Marketing Associates my way with those tissues.

      Making the most of each moment is the best thing any of us can do. We're all given the same twenty-four hours each day.

      I'm so glad you're still around and talking trash my way. :)

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  9. If you want to do it, then just do it.
    I don't want to make a living out of it. I only wanted one published book. Or just see if I could find publication. Everything beyond it is bonus.

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    1. And what a terrific bonus it's been for you, Alex! That's where the joy of it comes in, like practicing an instrument to the point where the rehearsals are as much fun as the gigs themselves.

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I love comments, and will always answer them, partly because I like having the last word and partly because I just like getting to know the people who read my blog.