Last year, I joined a number of writers in Resolution 2011 – Write Every Day or Pay. For every day I didn’t write in the year of 2011, I would donate $1 to the charity of my choice. (I chose Joy2theWorld, an organization that supports women in Ghana.)
Making this resolution and keeping track of how many days I wrote caused me to make a revelation. I probably spend too much time writing for a person with a full time job in another field. It would be one thing if writing was my sole career, but doing it on top of teaching sometimes squeezes out everything else I should be doing.
To say I’m driven to write is an understatement. When I started to keep track in 2011, it quickly became apparent just how much writing I actually do: drafting new words, revising and editing old ones, blog posts – and even comments to other people’s blog posts, because I take the time to try and compose something interesting even in a comment. If “great post” is all I have to say, then I usually don’t bother. And what about responding to the writing of my critique partners? At first I didn’t think beta reading somebody else’s manuscript counted as “my writing,” but I teach my fifth grade students that “peer conferencing” is part of the writing process. So, if I’m helping another writer plan revisions and editing that improves their writing, then I am writing; aren’t I?
What I learned is: constant writing can be draining and frustrating and sometimes self-defeating. Instead of trying to write every day, I should be learning when to take breaks – get some exercise, spend time with the family, read a book, watch some TV, go to bed a little earlier.
I stopped keeping track of my days somewhere in the middle of 2011 and decided to just match my opening donation to Joy2theWorld -- which I did today.
And in 2012 – I’m sure I will do A LOT of writing. But hopefully, I’ll also have the sense to know when to step away from it … and breathe.