The problem with how I write

I love writing, but it can be a problem. Writing takes up too much of my time. Time when I need to be doing other things.

To control this somewhat I have told myself that I should not write more than two blog posts a week.

Most weeks I write three.

The week before last I wrote four.

And that’s just blogging. I have plays to write, occasional freelancing gigs, and dreams of children’s books.

I sometimes say that I write quickly. That’s a lie. I only type quickly.

Many of my blog posts go from blank screen to completed draft in less than an hour. Some of my flash fiction pieces were done in less than 30 minutes.

But that’s just the typing. That’s just getting the words down.

I type things so quickly because a) I’m a fast typist and b) the creation part is already done. When I sit down at my computer I am not creating; I am taking dictation. Athena is fully formed in my head just waiting to spring forth.

The imagining part of writing, the thinking up of what will be written, I rarely do quickly. That part of writing happens over hours, days, weeks, or even months.

I write in my mind, and I do it constantly. I write when I’m walking to and from the L. I write when I’m in the shower. I write when I’m eating. I write when I’m folding laundry. I write when I’m getting my hair done. I write when I’m supposed to be doing other things like sleeping or playing with my kids or listening to a conference call. I even write sometimes when I’m driving.

That is the problem with how I write: It is difficult to turn off, and it can be distracting and overwhelming.

Sometimes, when I’m not supposed to be writing, I decide to take the time to type out or write down in longhand whatever it is that is in my head keeping me from doing what I should be doing. I tell myself that if I just get the idea down I will be able to focus on other things.

That rarely works.

Much like nature, my imagination abhors a vacuum. New ideas begin to emerge almost immediately.

I think it was Rebecca Gilman or possibly Sarah Ruhl who said that she doesn’t write down her ideas. If she doesn’t remember the idea by the time she has time to write it she figures the idea must not have been worth remembering.

I’ve started to take that approach. I used to write down all my ideas, but it is depressing to look at a notebook full of things that I never have time to really write.

But I do write. At least the creative part of writing. I rarely stop.

So if you see me walking and I don’t say “Hi” or we are having dinner and I don’t seem to be paying attention know that although I do not have a pen in my hand or my fingers on a keyboard I am probably writing.

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