Friday, October 2, 2015

Peer Pressure Episode Two

“Well, you know, Julie, writers write,” Dan insisted.

“Yes, I know.” 

“So are you writing every day?”

“No, I'm not. I work full-time and have a child. There's really not a lot of time for writing.” I heard the defensive tone in my own voice. 

“I'm just suggesting a page a day. That's not that much. You can squeeze in a page a day, can't you?”

I knew this friend was right, but I wasn't quite ready to commit. 

“Do I have to show you what I write?”

“It doesn't matter what you write. I'll never see it. You just need to sit down and physically type out the words.” 

I had spent months—nearly two years, actually—actively wondering how I could fit a writing practice into my daily routine. I had taken an intensive two-week writing course at the university where I work. In the course of the class, I had realized that the physical act of writing was a joy for me. Among the many things I learned in that class was that I want to write regardless of if I am ever published.  I looked at my 19 journals differently.  They were proof I was a writer, but in previous years, before I'd understood that being a writer had nothing to do with whether you were published or not, I had discounted those volumes of productivity.

In the months since the summer course I was trying to muster up the discipline to write regularly. Those dormant months of thinking about writing prepared me to take my friend's challenge. 

We established the rules: a page a day by midnight; the content didn't matter, just the act of writing them; text Dan when they're done; no one had to ever read anything I wrote in these sessions.  That was it.

I woke up the next morning at 5:45 and wrote a page. I don't remember what I wrote, but I did it. And I sent a text to Dan. “Page Done.” 

He texted back “Gj on page.”

I kept writing. I felt something shift inside me. I felt calmer. I felt at peace. I felt like I was doing what I was "supposed to." 

In earlier conversations, I had told Dan that I would never write a novel. I didn't have a story. And then one day I was frustrated at work. I texted him a story line inspired by work frustration.

“I love it,” he wrote back. “It would make a great short story. Go for it.”

A database was displayed on my computer monitor. My eyes scanned a list of names. They landed on the name Astrid. Without understanding what was happening, I heard a little voice say “Astrid. That's your character's name.” I continued doing my work and Astrid burrowed her way into my imagination. 

Over the course of a few days, a rough character sketch came to me. I texted Dan and he kept encouraging me. We discussed ideas that came to me.

I began devoting a few page-a-days per week to these character sketches and bits of story line that came to me. Somewhere between days 11 and 13, I asked Dan, “How many days does it take for a new habit to form?”

“Twenty one. It takes 21 days.” 

A new habit was forming. A writing habit.

1 comment:

  1. I love how Astrid burrowed her way into your imagination. I wonder what she is like?