This time of year makes it particularly hard to concentrate on creative projects. It always feels as if there is something else to be done: Christmas shopping, preparing to travel, cleaning, finding a rabbit-sitter (okay, that last one might be particular to me). With my "official" work finished - the university semester over and done with - I should have oodles of time to finally focus on my own writing. And, yet, it often feels as if my own creativity gets pushed to the bottom of the "to do" list and even when I put it at the top, my ability to focus is all over the shop. I feel guilty for even writing this, because finding excuses for why I'm not writing is one of the things I most deplore in myself.
In one of my Novels classes this semester I talked through the realities of word counts to anyone who wants to write a book. If you wrote 1000 words a day, I told them, you could write a 80,000 word novel in 3 months. They looked at me skeptically. But I wanted to shout at most of them about how they were in the best possible position to actually do this: most of them are too young to have had children or to have the many responsibilities of adulthood on their shoulders. Not to say they are all skipping through the tulips, without a care in the world, but they are, generally, burdened with free time. And youth definitely gives you an edge in terms of energy ... When I look back, I can hardly believe how much time I spent not writing when I could have been.
We definitely live in an age where they are so many more distractions - all the attractions of the electronic world - so that reading and writing have become something to force yourself towards. Only I know on the days I clock up my 1000 words, or finish reading that amazing book, I have a sense of self completely different from the one who has only watched others or run around buying stuff. The creative self has been fed and will live to write another day.