Writing is healing for me – cathartic. You might not relate but writing brings me a release I cannot explain. When the words start to flow and I hit the rhythm of the process, sometimes my fingers cannot keep up with the thoughts. When this happens, I actually feel like God is writing and I’m just the scribe. When the words just bubble up from within, there is peace, contentment, and even joy. I long to return to that secret place, yet it’s rare I find my way back there. It takes time, stillness, and the willingness to be vulnerable with a blank page. 

In her new book Girl Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis suggests that as an aspiring author I need to write wherever and whenever I can. To be honest, this advice frustrated me when I first read it. I want solitude and sometimes even the holy writing experience. However, day after day and month after month slip by with no progress, sometimes even on my blog. Carving out the time for the luxury of writing alone and in peace becomes the pipe dream. These are mythical, rare, moments – I want them, crave them even, but best intentions notwithstanding, they rarely pass my way. 

This morning I am sitting in a Panera waiting for an appointment with a tablet in hand and there is suddenly a small space in my life to knock out some writing. What could I possibly write that makes a difference, not to mention is on point and consistent with my book (or even my blog) in these few minutes? Is author and speaker Rachel Hollis correct? I’m not seasoned enough to know for sure yet, but I’m highly doubtful you can write a life thesis in carved-out, tiny segments. Maybe this kind of writing is more about intentionality and purpose than it is about content? But, is my goal simply to get words down on paper? Well, yes and no. 

**Yes** in that I need to cultivate my skills and loosen my thoughts because life’s burdens can totally weigh us down and stop the flow of words needed to write effectively. Maybe that’s the work I can do sitting in a Panera with cheeky music on the speakers, a table full of seniors playing a rowdy board game that involves dice (are the dice sounds growing louder as I focus on them?), and workers who are chatting it up now that the morning rush has passed. Maybe this is conditioning, like clocking the miles for an upcoming race or weight lifting reps in a gym. Maybe this is about being able to write while people talk and life shuffles by, which if I’m being honest, I’m not good at that at all. 


Part of my problem, which involves high levels of (problematic) perfectionism bordering on OCD, is that I wait to write till all is quiet and well, perfect. For me that means the laundry is all done and put away, the house is clean, the dog is walked, all of the schoolwork is completed, supper is made …. well, any and all of the possible distractions that stand in my way daily are accomplished. As you can imagine, for a working mom of five, this RARELY happens. I’m not saying all the planets don’t sometimes align so I can pump out a blog or work on a chapter of my book, but I am saying all these particular planets don’t align very often. 


I could certainly benefit from developing a new skill set to write outside of the idyllic “she shed” situations when everything else is not perfectly finished. Loud and obnoxious coffee shop writing sessions may be needed to focus on simply loosening up my words. Think of writing like a well from which water flows: the more you write, the more it flows. The converse is also true, the less you write, the less it flows. So, I’m sitting here in these precious alone minutes in Panera, basically priming my pump. This is not the time to worry about perfection or polish, I’m just trying to get the flow started again. 


But I think “no” also applies here. I believe my book does require and deserve more of my reverent attention. I do not believe I can work on that project in the same way –as that manuscript is not about word count, measured productivity, or publisher deadlines (because there are none!) Two years after I put it back in the drawer because life interrupted, it still calls to me. I constantly write down thoughts for this chapter or that section. Significant reflection time will be required to re-read the 200 drafted pages, synchronize my notes, and begin again with the project. I don’t possibly see how this type of writing is squeezed into the margins of my time. 

However, I know in my soul it is still not the season for that project to resume. Not quite yet, anyway. Grad school picks up again in a few short weeks and the slow pace of summer all too soon will fade into the hurried frenzy of fall. For now, I must focus on carving out these small spaces and conditioning my skills – for that, I’m willing to follow Rachel’s advice and try writing wherever and whenever I can (but most definitely with a pair of headsets on next time).