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Show Up and Write

This is what I do.

I show up.

Even when I don’t feel like writing, I sit down and write.

show_up

It may not sound very profound… probably because it’s not… but sometimes I still need to remind myself to do it because I am a human being and get caught up in all the things that stop me from showing up.

If I let myself, I could distract myself indefinitely.

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This is what stops me from showing up:

  • Waiting for people to arrive to read before I’ve written something worth reading.
  • Worrying that not enough people are reading what I’ve written and therefore wondering if it’s worth writing more.
  • Feeling insecure about what I’ve written.
  • Feeling good about what I’ve written but wondering why my writing is not getting the response that someone else’s writing is getting, and therefore returning to what is the point if I can’t get that response.
  • Checking email or social media or other people’s blogs.  Harvard Business Review is correct in that this is an insane way to exist and expect to be productive and get work accomplished: “Suppose each time you ran low on an item in your kitchen—olive oil, bananas, napkins—your instinctive response was to drop everything and race to the store. How much time would you lose? How much money would you squander on gas? What would happen to your productivity?  We all recognize the inefficiency of this approach. And yet surprisingly, we often work in ways that are equally wasteful.”

All those things, if I don’t hold them at bay, stop me from showing up.  Because they all make me doubt myself or waste energy in comparisons or wonder the point.

Here’s the point of writing: to take something out of my head and put it down on the page.  To tell myself a story.  To create a character or plotline that holds my interest.  To make sense of my thoughts.

None of those reasons contain anyone else except myself.

And that’s important for me to remember because I cannot control whether anyone publishes my books.  I can’t control whether anyone reads my posts.  I can’t do anything except show up and hope that what I have to say resonates with someone else.

So I show up.

I sit down and open a blank blog post screen or bring up my manuscript on the computer.

That’s how I get myself to sit down, day after day, and write.  Even on days when my brain tells me that dedicating my time to writing makes no sense.

8 comments

1 Jen { 08.19.14 at 8:19 am }

I for one am so glad that you write. I also love that you emphasise writing for yourself. You write for you, but believe me so many of us get enjoyment from it. Even if we sometime forget to let you know!

2 Serenity { 08.19.14 at 8:55 am }

I love this. (Have bookmarked this post, in fact!)

Thanks for sharing.

3 Amel { 08.19.14 at 8:57 am }

Brilliant post, Mel! This is also what an author friend of mine told me when it comes to writing. 🙂

4 SuzannaCatherine { 08.19.14 at 9:27 am }

I am guilty of not commenting often enough. I love your posts and always learn something. I love hearing about your children. They are so talented and creative. And recently I enjoyed Josh’s posts during the radio reporting challenge. (Sorry I can’t remember the official name.)
I am so pleased that you continue to write six days (sometimes seven) a week. It’s something I look forward to each day – and miss when you don’t post on Saturday, which I assume is in honor of your Sabbath. You are definitely a huge part of my online life. You may think that you are writing for yourself, but you are writing for all of us, too. Some of my favorite posts: your trip to beach last year – just you and the twins, your post about genealogy and trying to fill in the gaps on your family tree, the trip to London and all the Harry Potter-ish things you did, also the posts that ask questions – how do load the dishwasher? Silverware handles up or down? – how do you take a shower? what do you wash first? Great posts, all of them.
This is rambling but I felt I needed to let you know that I will always be part of your audience. Thank you for enriching my life.

5 Justine { 08.19.14 at 3:18 pm }

Check, check, check, check, check. 🙂 Thanks for showing up, and for writing.

6 Tiara { 08.20.14 at 7:45 am }

This was very timely for me. Thank you

7 Hope { 08.20.14 at 8:18 am }

Since discovering your blog, I’ve admired your ability to *consistently* write things that are worth reading, and to engage others in the discussion. Consistency is hard! (I’m not there myself.)

But I keep showing up too, largely because of your advice to write “because you need the space.” I hope that your writing still benefits YOU as much as / more than your readers.

Your posts here have given me a sense of community, medical tips, thoughtful analysis of things in the news, introductions to many great blogs (love the Roundup!), and sometimes just a happy diversion and glimpse into someone else’s life. Don’t doubt that your words reach far, even if it may take a while for some ideas to percolate!

8 Megan { 08.22.14 at 12:07 am }

For those of us who have “been around the block” a few times in terms of infertility procedures, I think we get spoiled by all the things going on in a two-month span, more than enough to write about – but then we fall into these periods of quiet and waiting and worrying that people only want to read our blogs for the juicy infertility stuff and our vacations or our “normal” little moments don’t have a place there. I think just having the mantra of “just show up and write” would work well for these sorts of situations too – let us hear about your whole life, not just the little bit of it that’s consumed by infertility!

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