The snow is falling outside my window while I am cozy inside. I feel like I should curl up with a London Fog in my favourite teacup and a new novel in my hands. But I know what must be done first.
Not a blotch mars the immaculate sheet of white.
Sometimes that unmarked canvas is exciting, inviting me to play, but other times, like today, it just feels like work. An overwhelming task. I am stressed I will not find the motivation to complete this piece - my part of the job.
I close my eyes and open them again. Still white.
I switch my gaze to the other page, the one that holds the prompt, then back again to the blank screen.
I spend a few minutes studying the other pieces of this month's task. Usually, as I think about what to write each month for my post on the Writers' Online blog for Inscribe, I make notes of various ideas for the theme. As I read the other posts published before mine I am inspired with something to add to the discussion or reminded of what the topic means to me, and I add these ideas to my collection of thoughts.
Reading this month’s posts, I have certainly been inspired to look for more of the resources others find valuable. I appreciate everyone sharing their favourites. Although I have been learning to write for the better part of a half-century, I am just beginning to learn how to write and what to do with that writing.
Tonight, as I open my October file in Scrivener to begin finalizing my ideas for this month's blog, I shiver. Not from the weather outside, but from my file. It is... empty! GASP! I have not one flake of inspiration collected from which to begin.
I start to throw black words onto the white. Then I backspace. I begin again. And backspace. The white recovers my attempts faster than the snow outside is covering the driveway.
I sit back and glance out the window. The still-falling chalky moisture shows winter is wanting to take hold.
I take a deep breath and consider... what resources help me to write?
I begin again. No deleting this time!
I am presently scribbling in Scrivener, one of the writing resources I am learning to use. My favourite feature is that I can open Scrivener without opening anything else on my computer, so am not tempted to answer email or check Facebook. (Okay, yes, I still do, but the option is there to not give in, and there are times I do focus only on writing.)
Aside from Scrivener, I am grateful for my Lenovo 14" laptop on which Scrivener runs. Small and light, it is comfortable to use at my desk or carry to a lounge chair or to the Inscribe Fall Conference.
I pause, and begin, again...
Writing is the only way I know to get better as a writer. Still, after all these years, I allow interruptions to interfere with playing in my favourite tools. Like picking up that shovel to clear the sidewalk, I find sitting down to write the most difficult step of writing. (Though honestly, my husband reminds me, I don’t pick up a real shovel as often as I pick up my computer.)
What sits me down at the computer to write?
A deadline is usually what pushes me to the keyboard.
Deadlines mean I have committed to writing by a particular date. That is a tool that works for me. Whether the deadline is for this blog, a contest, my church, or my own projects, whether that deadline is set by others or myself, the pledge to meet a date or time encourages me to write.
Does it make me a better writer? I think so because it forces me to write whether it feels like work or play. As a Christian writer, I am encouraged to let my yes be yes, to complete my commitments, and meeting deadlines is one way to do so.
There is no stopping the advance of winter. It will come. Outside my window, the snow has now become slushy. Winter has not quite taken hold.
And writers' block has not taken hold, either.
Tonight, the night before my post is due, I no longer see only white.
* photos CCO license, Pixabay.com
Marnie may need to pick up a shovel this winter, but she'd rather be working with words.