Often, when I tell people that I write, or when I point them to this blog, the response often leads to a conversation like this:
Them: “You mean you write stuff outside of school?
Me: *smiles a little and laughs* “Yep.”
Them: “But isn’t that really time consuming?” *pause* “Wait, but don’t you do sports?”
Because apparently being athletic and a writer are mutually exclusive now.
This conversation is not what happens every time, particularly not with my close friends. But in general, people seem to think that creative writing, especially creative nonfiction like this blog, must be present only in a school assignment. The general opinion seems to be that I must either be crazy or sacrificing all of my sleep for the sake of this blog.
To address point one: Writing is always more than just a class assignment. It’s a way of life. I carry around notebooks and pencils. I scribble on the toes of my shoes. I tend to lose focus because I am dreaming up ideas for my latest story, poem, or blog post. When I am told to put away the computer in class, I smile to myself and pull out the notebook. When the laptop is out, it is usually open to a Word document containing my current project. Without writing, I have no idea how my day would function. I started this blog in the winter, on a whim one morning during the school week. I learned to work it into my schedule to keep it regularly updated. I actually find it more difficult to maintain in the summer! And as for the classroom projects to which some people equate this blog? I prefer not to think of those as homework, perse, but rather as a time to take a break from the intensity of the homework, and to get credit for something I enjoy doing, and which allows me to produce something high-quality and interesting. Writing outside of school actually helps my more academic writing a lot, because I am constantly in a mindset of organizing my thoughts on paper.
To address point two: I really hope I’m not clinically insane. If I were, then I feel like that would be an issue.
To address point three: Writing doesn’t take up all that much extra time. I do have to work to make sure I have that time, but I can knock out a thousand words in half an hour if I really try. My goal is to write at least a full page of handwritten anything every single day, and I don’t think I’ve missed more than one day here or there in a few years now. My schedule is generally overpacked, as a rule, even considering all of the extracurriculars I have dropped over the years. But sports and writing are not mutually exclusive! As a runner, I gather much of my writing inspiration when I am hot, sweaty, and feeling absolutely exhausted. I leave for a four-mile run, and I come back with several pages of a story plotted out in my head. Yes, I am often sleep-deprived, but some of my best work took root at eleven thirty when I had just finished homework. In fact, when I don’t follow through with my write-something-every-day routine, I feel guilty, and lacking. Everything feels out of place until I can pick up the pencil and notebook again.
So when anyone asks me how I manage to keep up with writing, or with this blog, the best answer I have is that I honestly don’t know how not to. Writing has become such an integral part of my day-to-day life that I would be utterly lost without it. I spend a lot of time trying to work through my thoughts and emotions on the page, and it has made me a more optimistic, thoughtful, and clear-headed person than I might otherwise be. That knowledge alone keeps me writing, because it keeps me grounded. It can be difficult, yes. But in the end? Even if none of my work ever gets published, I will still know that all of that effort is so, so worth it.