Monday, June 24, 2019

Building the Building Blocks

Hello Invisible Audience,

I am using my 30 minutes of writing this morning to write to you. It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, giving myself this new writing time. It sometimes feels like I’m trying to smash it in between two rocks and a hard place, but here I am.

I’ve been thinking about all the advice I’ve heard about how to start a writing practice; about all the habits I’ve tried to pick up that will stick and won’t stick. I’ve realized that giving myself this half hour in the morning to write has taken many more steps than I would have thought. 

It seems I have a specific way that I would ideally like to do things. I yearn for large swaths of time: hours and days to dedicate to a specific task. In the past, I have given myself that time and yet somehow it never feels quite as productive as I would have hoped. Life gets in the way, money runs out, but also I find I am intimidated by those large blocks. I pace and flutter and cook and make other plans. 

I’ve been feeling that way lately, but about other things. I have started swimming at the local pool in the mornings, but I also want to ride my bike to work downtown, but I also want to write in the morning, but I also need enough sleep, but I also want to make my lunch before I go…you see? Are you already intimidated by my day? Because I am.

At the end of each week, I print out next week’s calendar and write out all the things I need to get done for work during that week in a list on the side. When I reach any particular day, I write down two or three things I want to get done. If I don’t finish them, they move to the next day.

The system works best when I schedule things an hour or two at a time. When I try to block out a whole day for one task – balancing my books, for example – I get overwhelmed and don’t end up doing it at all.

The lesson seems pretty obvious at this point: small chunks of time build up to finished tasks and projects. Small chunks of time don’t seem as intimidating and require less extended concentration.

It’s true with the writing, too. What’s also true is that many pieces had to come first before 30 minutes of writing felt ok. 

1)   I had to establish a journaling habit that is separate from my writing habit, where I empty out all my worries and fears and to dos.
2)   I had to go to 12 sessions with a rolfing specialist to help me realign my bone structure and fascia so I wasn’t in pain sitting or writing
3)   I had to create a morning exercise routine at home that included building strength in my neck and shoulder to prevent the sitting/writing pain from coming back
4)   I had to spend several years working with my doctor to figure out what foods I was allergic to and stop eating them so the inflammation would diminish so I could sleep better and wouldn’t have an overpowering need to sleep during the day
5)   I had to change a lot of relationships and let go of some toxic ones to make room mentally and emotionally 
6)   I had to start going to bed earlier
7)   I’ve had to teach myself that 30 minutes of time for this in the morning is not going to lead to homelessness just because I’m not spending that time working for money

Now, this goes directly against all the things I hear, Invisible Audience. Even some of my favorite writers would scoff at the list of “excuses” I have for not writing. Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) wrote in a book that engineers don’t get caught up in their heads about their work, so why should writers? Then again, she also said the first step to writing any book is to organize the spice drawer.

I don’t know why it takes so much for me to write. It trips on some DANGER – CLIFF AHEAD wire in my brain and makes me want to veer away, even as I yearn for it. Maybe it’s precisely because it’s a cliff that I’m scared – because it will lead me off the edge of what I’m sure is the only way and into an entirely different world.

So here’s to anyone who is seeking their path and beating themselves up for not yet accomplishing what they think should be easy or straightforward. I’ve personally found that few things in life actually are. 

Love and block by block kisses,



  1. And here I am on FB reading your wonderful words and not writing. But, thank God it's coming to me- and I thank YOU for the help. I am so focused on my grief and learning to live with it through meditation, that the writing is almost secondary. This too shall pass. I'll see you soon.

    1. Thank you Candice! I'm looking forward to seeing you, too! Sending you big hugs.