Writing While the World Burns

“How do you write with everything going on?”

If your social media feeds are anything like mine, you’re seeing this question, or something very similar to it at least once a week.

On the surface, it seems like a simple question but it goes much deeper than that.

It’s a cry for help.

If you look in the replies, you will invariably find someone who has posted:

“One word at a time.”

On the surface, this seems like an incredibly snarky and unhelpful answer, while also being the unvarnished – technical – truth.

But it’s not the *Entire* truth.

Sidebar: Yes, I concede the point that, even if you’re dictating, you can still only write one word at a time. If you’re the type of person who would respond in such a way…maybe you should save your cleverness for another day…

The entire truth is that there’s Writing and there’s Writing. It sees that there’s a bigger picture. It takes into account that there’s a cost for every word – physically, mentally, and temporally – and that you’re paying those costs every time you sit down to write. On top of that, the banks from which you pay those costs aren’t of equal size. They’re not even the same size from day to day. Some days you might have all the time in the world to write, other days, you may only have a small window – that kind of thing.

But what about that time when you’re thinking about the story? Maybe you’re standing in line somewhere (Appropriately socially distanced AND masked) and you fit the pieces together for something that’s been puzzling you?

That’s writing too.

That time in the shower (Yes, this happens to me so freaking often) where everything clicks together into a cohesive whole and you know how the story is going to turn out.

That’s writing.

It’s not just sitting there at the keyboard, or in front of the page. Anything that gets you further along, or helps polish what’s there, counts just as much as tapping away at the keyboard.

And that’s hard for some of us to accept. Hell, it’s hard for me to accept sometimes, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Now don’t think of this as a kind of Magic Bullet. You can’t use this as an excuse to never get in front of the keyboard or page. You will eventually have to do the “One Word at a Time” thing, but that’s never really left your mind, has it?

What may have slipped your mind is that it’s ok to take a step or two away from the keyboard or page. It’s ok to take some time to refill and recharge those banks. Sitting on your porch, gazing up at the sky, and letting that story simmer – like a good pot of chili, occasionally stirring it up, checking in on it every now and again – is perfectly acceptable.

Thanks for reading.

Be Excellent to each other.

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