My apologies for not being in touch since May; I find that if I am running a writing workshop, my own writing falls by the wayside. I do not recommend this for you: keep writing no matter what!
I need to take my own advice.
I no longer have any excuses, though, now that the workshops have ended for the summer. I am back to my own writing, and I hope you have found some time to get to yours. When I think about the writing I do each day, I realize that besides the storytelling, I write texts and emails and – even though this seriously dates me – letters. All of this demands a certain amount of creativity.
Therefore, you get to count it as part of your writing life. I am counting it as part of mine.
Which brings me to the purpose of today’s blog post. If you have encountered obstacles to writing, try one of two techniques. One is to simply write a letter. You know your audience, which makes the task easier. And you have news, even during a pandemic. Even if that news centers on the glory of your blooming lilies. Or your inevitable concerns because a rabbit family has set up shop under your deck in close proximity to your first-ever vegetable garden where the lettuce is throwing a fully unmasked dance party. It’s all still news.
The second technique is even simpler. Commit to writing for 15 minutes. Set the timer if you must. But commit. I follow a woman on Instagram, Silver Disobedience, a Wilhelmina model in her 50s who writes on philosophy and life approaches. She frequently shares a mantra her mother chanted to her when she was young: Commit for 15 minutes to any task, any goal. Fifteen minutes is manageable. Fifteen minutes is a start. Human nature can embrace the concept of 15 minutes.
This is what I ask of you this week: to try both. Commit, for 15 minutes, to write a letter. This letter might be to an individual you haven’t spoken to in a while. Or a sibling with whom you’ve had a disagreement. A parent who misses you. A parent who doesn’t miss you. A friend you see regularly but to whom you keep forgetting to tell one small but meaningful item. Beloved dhildren. Challenging children. Aunts or uncles.
Start the letter. You can always go back to it.
If you struggle to read your handwriting, type it.
Get the conversation started. I promise you, once you mail that letter and it makes its way to the intended recipient, the feeling of warmth your letter bestows is incomparable.
Before you post the stamp, read your work aloud – to yourself, the microwave, the cat, the dog. As always, if you have been a participant in the Candlelight Writing Workshops, feel free to share your work with me. If you have been struggling to get started, this small effort, I hope, will help you step forward. The ancient saying fits here, keeping in mind that a li is a Chinese mile: “The journey of a thousand li starts beneath one’s feet.” The updated translation: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
The wisdom, however spoken, holds true always.