projects and writings of Tracy Burkholder
I’ve been writing and avoiding writing since I was a teenager. I used to read a lot about the writing life and all the myriad ways writers kept themselves on their creative paths, hoping I’d find the perfect clue on how to make all this work. Now, barely a day goes by that I don’t come across a writing friend posting about their struggles and achievements or sharing an article that tells me how to not procrastinate or be persistent or find better, imaginative ways to be a better, more imaginative writer. I never read any of it anymore.
Over the last few years I’ve come to accept that I’m more of a sporadic scribbler than a dedicated wordsmith. When months and months go by without any words getting down on any pages, I’m just as happy as when I’m deep in the mess of language. One period is not richer than the other. That said, I’ve never fully escaped the idea that something interesting might happen if I wrote every day. I’ve had some periods of fairly sustained commitment, but even while I was getting my MFA, daily writing was not part of my life.
Now, for the month of March, it will be. Not wanting to trip myself up right out of the gate, I’m aiming low: 20 minutes a day without any particular end in mind. I’m not going to write a novel in a month or a poem a day. I’m not going to crank out a bunch of essays with complete beginnings, middles and ends. I’m just going to turn to a blank page and fill a bit of it up. If I go longer than 20 minutes, as I have these first couple days, then great. But I always have 20 minutes. As my friend said, “You probably waste 20 minutes a day just deciding if you should get up and go to the bathroom.”
Another writing friend who has pledged to join me in this challenge thinks I’m aiming too low. But I know myself. If I put any expectations in place on finishing a particular piece or carving out an hour every day, failure will come sure and quick. Along with the dailiness of this practice, it will be my challenge to make it fun, to make the process the point, to remind myself that there has to be joy in it or it’s not worth doing.
Wish me luck. I think I’m really going to need it this time.