So when lnhammer and I headed out of town for a writing retreat, I assumed that–given I had nearly five days to write and do nothing else–that my retreat time would be entirely about writing as many pages as possible.
I did get pages written–maybe a few more than I would have at home–and I did work out some important structural issues. But mostly, I remembered–three days in–that it’s not about how many pages you write after all. It’s about what you bring to the writing.
I keep forgetting this and needing to relearn it. Writing is meant to be a joyful thing. Not that writing is always easy, not that it always goes well, not that what one is writing is always cheerful–though sometimes it is these things, and that’s worth remembering, too. But one can bring joy to hard work, too.
We can bring joy to the process of writing–and set aside the worries about whether we’re writing quickly enough, or commercially enough, or anything else enough. Those are all valid concerns, and should be looked at and addressed–when one is off focusing on the business management part of things, which is important: writers and artists need to be savvy businesspeople, too.
But when we’re creating–I always come back to the fact that in those moments, it should be about the creating. And that creating needn’t stop being the enchanted, wondrous thing it was when we all started writing, before those other concerns all came on board.
I must remember that, when I’m writing and feeling more worry than joy–it’s time to step back. To step back, and look out and around into the world a little, until I can shift my attitude a little, and get into a place where I’m enjoying the process once more.
I think that shift tends to show through in the work. But it matters, even if it doesn’t.