A few weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a link to this blog post about writing: https://www.writersstore.com/dont-break-the-chain-jerry-seinfeld/
In a nutshell the author states that Jerry Seinfeld’s advice for writing is to do it every day, to not break the chain. They even include a downloadable calendar for writing big X’s on. The thought of missing a day and breaking your chain of X’s is good motivation to do it.
I’ve wondered a little about this type of idea. I’ve tried something similar with exercising. I’d reward myself with stickers on days I worked out. Even the Wii Fit gets in on this idea by having you “stamp” a calendar each day you hit your workout goals. And it’s been surprisingly successful…for a time. Eventually I didn’t really mind if a day here and there were missing stickers or stamps. But I’ve never been dedicated to working out. I just don’t enjoy it and think about all the other stuff I could be doing instead of push ups.
Like writing! Writing, for me, is something I feel passionately about. I enjoy it and I think I’m pretty good at it, so I like to do it. I decided to give this method a try. My writing has greatly decreased since 2015, when I started my master’s program (and by decreased I mean its become non-existent). But I’ve graduated now and am hoping to jump back in to writing more frequently.
This seemed like the perfect way to jump start that part my life again. I’ve been doing “Don’t Break the Chain” for a few weeks now. I’ve missed a couple days here and there, but I went on a great run last week. My wall calendar is filling up with red X’s and it is satisfying to see. Here’s the thing though, I’m not really writing…anything.
I don’t have a story I’m working on. There’s no huge backlog of blog posts itching to be edited and posted. There’s no book of poetry or even one poem or one completed short story. What I’ve got is a few private journal entries (I give myself a break on weekends and count journaling as my writing for the day) and a million story starts. A couple of those story starts seemed promising until I actually started writing. Now they seem forced and I have no ideas for moving the plot or characters forward.
The truth is, it seems that my creativity has been sapped away. How, I’m not quite sure. Perhaps the rigors of school have left my brain lazy and hoping for a break. Or maybe I just don’t have any good ideas. Whatever the case may be, I don’t have a story I’m working on so I’m wondering what the point of all this writing is. I make myself do it everyday, but to what end? Perhaps there’s a curve where I have to get my head out of the academic game and back into the creative writing vibe. It’s discouraging and encouraging at the same time. On the one hand I’m glad to be writing again, on the other most of what gets put down won’t be anything more than the start of a story.
But maybe that’s ok. Not every story is meant to be told right? Maybe these characters that appear in a single scene are a part of something larger that will eventually come together and create a great story. Who knows? At this point though I guess I’ll just keep pressing on, writing the starts of stories that go nowhere and putting red X’s on my calendar.