Writing without ceasing

Ever since I read this article by Julianna Baggott earlier in the week, I have been trying to follow her advice, and write all the time, even when not writing.  When asked about how she managed writing while raising four children, she responded, “I kept stealing time. I learned to work in ten-minute increments, then five, then two. And then I learned, most important, to write while not writing. Without jotting a word, I wrote all day long with my eyes and ears and mouth. I didn’t learn boundaries—my office space where I can think, versus my real life. It was all one life, one blur. In a way, because my actual time at the desk was so limited, I learned to write all the time—even in my sleep. And so when I got to the desk, I wrote madly. It all came fast.”  I haven’t gotten to the part where it comes like hot lava once I sit to get it all down, but I will keep trying.

The bitch of it is, it’s really distracting to do this.  To be composing words for this blog while hanging decorations for my daughter’s party (it’s tomorrow!), while reading someone else’s words in a riveting novel (The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern), while doing any number of the mundane or complicated acts that make up my life, leaves me sort of foggy and not fully present in either place.  I long to have the time that this dude does:

Screw this guy.

I mean, he’s not even out of his boxer shorts!  He’s just smoking his pipe, typing away.  I doubt he’s done anything today, nevermind gotten up at the crack of dawn to appease a smiley yet very kicky baby that’s been hitting him in the face and saying “up, up, up” before he even knows his own name!

But his life, in all its old timey glamour, is not my life.  Instead, I am writing this past 10pm, while my husband watches old SNL on Netflix streaming in the next room, my baby sleeps (but not for long!) and my mind is slightly preoccupied with the several tasks I have to do to prepare for a very full day tomorrow.

It is worth it.  Shortly after starting this writing-nearly-every-day challenge, my husband said to me, “Yup, you need to write every day.  You are SO much happier when you do.”  I’m not doing it to be happy, per se, but it is a nice by-product.  Sometimes, after writing these posts, I just feel vulnerable and anxious.  Self-exposure in such a public forum is rather new to me, and is not always a pleasant experience.  But the encouragement you all have given me has been so, so incredible, and I have found that in most circumstances, opening up leads to more depth, more opportunities for connection, more growth.

So, this writing-even-when-not-writing idea has been my practice this week, and I can’t say I’ve mastered it, but it has been quite interesting.  It reminds me of praying without ceasing, a concept first introduced to me in college when we learned about Brother Lawrence, a 17th century monk who developed “practicing the presence of God”, in which he would pray while doing the kitchen work in the monastery or wherever he was, allowing God to be with him and every moment of his life to be prayer.  I find writing and prayer to be intertwined.  Often things that I write about are current, ongoing conversations I’m having with God/Goddess.  And my writing is, I suppose, a form of prayer, since it is creation and whenever you create something you are acting on the spiritual plane.

Every moment, when I am going about my day, I am trying to do many things.  I am trying to make every action a prayer, from changing a diaper to doing a frustrating dance step.  And I am also, now, writing — with the curve of my shoulder, in the space between my eyelids and my skull, sending my words out into the ether to be heard… or to fall, creating something new in the collective consciousness, even if they never make it to the page.

3 thoughts on “Writing without ceasing

  1. I love this post. I, too, feel envious of imaginary writing-all-the-time guy sometimes. But that guy isn’t living, just writing. Living fully is what makes a great writer, I believe, and you’re definitely doing that!

  2. I wonder if it would help to think about it less in terms of multitasking and more in terms of using another lens for your attention. I’m pretty sure the wonderful presence you have which I remember from college has not disappeared. I would hate to see you lose that.

    Maybe the writing without ceasing thing is about a lens of attention you can add onto the camera through which you view the world. I think that’s kind of like what praying without ceasing is for me when I do it successfully. It’s less something I actively pursue and more a place of intention from which to approach all other activities and life’s situations.

    Maybe writing without ceasing could be the same? Does that make sense at all? So now you’ll be filtering your world through two lenses. The lens of prayer, and the lens of an artist. I think God/dess could be down with that!

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