A coach called Rachel Turner once asked us in a workshop way back “if this was your last day on earth, what three things would you spend your time doing?”. I regularly play this game with friends during long al fresco Sunday lunches. Mostly my friends include reading as one of their three things. The other two are usually about a good meal and then something about family/friends/loved ones. Sometimes people combine those last two into a good meal with with family/friends/loved ones, usually so they can squeeze in a final shag. Sorry, I know that’s a bit indelicate, but we have usually been drinking during the playing of this game and so people speak their minds quite freely, and with much laughter.
Writing is always one of my three. Along with reading. And swimming in the turqoise blue water.
At some level, I know I am a writer. A writer who doesnt always write but who should be writing. When I was a coach we would discourage people from participating in “shoulds” because there was an element of forcing yourself to do something, not being inspired to do it. But writing is my exception. I should be writing, but I’m not. Yet. Or at least I’m not writing enough.
And I’ve just agreed with a couple of pals that I will write, every day, setting aside thirty minutes to do it. And so here goes.
If you were to ask me what I want to be doing with the rest of my life, i.e. every day between now and my last day on earth, then being a writer would be right up in there in my top ten activities, and pretty high up within that list. A psychic person told me the other day that I am a writer. Yes, I replied. Charlatan! Can you call yourself a writer without a daily habit? But that yes is born of a deep down certainty that I am writer.
I have been fortunate enough to coach many clients through writing their first book, sometimes even a second. And they say to me “when are you going to write your first book, Judith?” and I wonder that too, having been waiting for inspiration. And we often think, don’t we, that we need space and time to write, to be creative. There’s something to that. But the real jobbing writers I know – career authors – they just carve out the time. They make the time. They force themselves. They “should” themselves into writing every day.
And so that’s my intention for a bit, to see how it goes.
Then one of my writing pals forwarded an email about putting on the kitchen timer for 30 minutes and staring at the wall, sitting at your desk, until you are so bored (because you are not allowed to do anything else) that you are forced to put virtual pen to virtual paper. And so I tried it. I’m 15 minutes in and several paragraphs up.
But, Gentle Reader, I cheated. I went to Twitter for inspiration and found this from Pam Slim: “What is one small thing you can do today to get one step closer to a lifelong dream?” and my answer is – I can write, Pam. Thanks for asking.
And so here we are, I’m writing. And you are reading. And I’m off on that first step towards my lifelong dream.
I tell my wannabe writing clients that in order to be a writer one has to write. And that by writing we get better at our craft. And that is my intention too; it’s about time I followed my own advice.
I’m on a gap year and have enjoyed nine blissful months so far. I’m on the cusp of my dream of moving to the Caribbean and reading, writing and swimming in the turqoise water every day. And wouldn’t that be even better if in the move I changed my identity from past-it coach to excited new writer? I think that’s a first step to reinvention. When asked I shall say I am a writer, because I am writing every day and honing my craft. And eventually I shall say I am an Author. Now there’s a nice goal in the unlikely event that I should need one.
And, oh look! I have seven minutes to spare on the timer, proving that there’s really no excuse, is there?
What is one small thing you can do today to get one step closer to your own lifelong dream?