Taking the advice that Rand Fishkin gave his wife, Geraldine DeRuiter to figure out – what is it that you could write about – every day – and pair it up with her own advice – that sounds like an excuse, don’t give in to that. You’ve got to write. And put it out there.
At this point, it’s not even about what it is that anyone wants or needs to hear – it’s that it’s got to be done.
And I know that it is. At this moment, I literally have in my purse four different sizes of blacks line pens, five* different sizes and shades of black, blue, and nearly blue pens, plus one bright pink mechanical pencil that happens to be my very favorite pencil of all time and better not break or ever get lost. Okay, perhaps not literally – but only because I didn’t let myself stop writing long enough to get up and go actually LOOK at my purse. But I did stop long enough to visualize all of them.
(*Actually, I did later go look at them and revised the number downward about two. I say “about” because I did that after I wrote the first draft and do not remember what the exact number was anymore because again, I’m not letting myself stop writing to go look again. Because I totally would. That’s just me. )
The reason I didn’t go actually count what’s there (and of course later did) is another key to whether this thing would ever be in any way successful – whatever “this thing” turns out to be (“nothing” is a thing too!) – and must be part of the advice I give myself. See, I’ve spent some time attempting to maintain a blog before so I know something about myself and this process.
What I know will be no surprise at all to my family and anyone else who might be close to me. I get hung up on the numbers. I want to be accurate and prices and not say anything incorrect – so I take an extraordinary amount of time to research legitimate resources for information and data that backs up what I’m saying. This is a laudable goal as there certainly are plenty of people who spout off unverifiable nonsense and hyperbole. And there are also plenty of times when we think that we know a thing but what we think we know is just plain wrong.
But here’s the deal – that validation process can’t get in the way of the writing process. I don’t know if I need fact checkers or crowd-sourced knowledge or simply just separate the two parts, though separating them likely just means that the validation process interferes with publishing instead of writing, which would be just as bad.
However it actually works, what is important is that here are my thoughts and questions – and in the time that I have allotted myself, this is what I came up with. The solution to my past issues with writing has to include allowing – expecting, even – myself to write, even when I don’t find the data that meets my expectations for verifiable source.
Something similar is also going to have to be necessary around time spent polishing. It’s got to be okay that it’s not perfect. Whatever I have when it’s time to publish has got to be good enough. So – no huge time spent researching and no huge time making it perfect. Just go with what is.
But back to the original question – what could I possibly write about every day? And keep it up. Every day. And not get bogged down in overthinking things. Every. Day.
Geraldine’s answer is Rand. And cake. I love my husband too and he can’t be off-limits the way that I’ve always had him be in my mind in the past. I’m sure Geraldine must be right – that’s just an excuse. And my family can’t be off-limits either – I’m not sure how other writers do that and not just totally alienate the people they know and love but clearly, there’s got to be some kind of path and I’ve just got to start finding it – while not allowing that process to interfere with the writing process.
I’m not sure that my own writing necessarily has to be about them, though. My writing can and should include them but really, it’s about my ability to make sense of the world around me. My brain talks to me. All. Of. The. Damn. Time. I can’t get it to shut up. It analyzes and deconstructs everything and gets wrapped around the axle puzzling over some things – or just recalling bits of songs over and over and over (often for days and weeks at a time), which is arguably better than obsessing over whatever it was I did wrong most recently. Because that happens too.
Fortunately, I’m also pretty strong-willed and I (usually) am pretty successful at keeping this active brain of my wrestled under control so that I can enjoy its more effective and useful capabilities. Regardless, my brain does have a lot to say and part of how I deal with that is by constantly working – really, really hard sometimes – at finding a more positive perspective around things. When I fail at that, my brain still talks to me, just in darker ways. What it’s saying, how I deal with that, what mistakes I make along the way – and whatever I might learn throughout that process (including nothing at all!)… well, THAT I could write about. Probably every day.
There is a lot to still figure out about how to stay on some definition of some “acceptable” path but questioning what is acceptable and finding creative paths through the riskier bits without interfering with the writing process will just have to be part of the journey.
When my brain starts talking to me about work, co-workers, and customers (and it does – boy, does it ever!), I have zero clue yet how I’ll deal with that but I will find a way somehow because clearly it has to be done. Maybe for others, but definitely for myself.
Here’s to letting my brain talk out loud for a bit.