I’m sitting here in bed grading papers on this blistering May Day evening. In less than a week, I’ll be graduating with an M.A. in creative writing. There’s a familiar tingling, giddy sensation as I realize, despite the packing, job hunting, and blog projects to be done, I’ve now the freedom to read what I want, write what I want, not get up at the crack of dawn if I don’t want. Though as anyone who has been a part of academia, or is just maybe a little too involved with work, vacation (or periods of transition) are as terrifying as they are glorious.
Just yesterday, I was discussing with one of my fellow graduate assistants over all the things we could do now that summer is here: Starting new blogs, catching up on Mad Men, reading all those journals that have been stacking up over the last six months. We paused, caught our breath, wide-eyed with possibilities. She then looked at me and then asked, “Where do I even start?”
This is pretty much how I feel about writing.
Once again, I find myself trying to make the effort to write daily. Primarily with 750words. I was working with this site rigorously a few summers ago and it worked wonders on my motivation. And now that I don’t have assignments, a thesis, and all these other things to force me to write, I need to make sure I don’t let up the slack. At the same time, now that I don’t have all these things to worry about, or so I tell myself, I can now go back to venturing into other things (primarily fiction—though I’m trying to pick up the slack on my poetry as well and all that’s going to come applies to it as well). I can give in to things that may not get finished, or I don’t feel pressured has to be a masterpiece. Most importantly, I just want to write freely and remember why I enjoy it and have dedicated so much of my studies and life to it.
To do that though, I have to start. And as I’m reading in a lot of my students’ papers as they reflect on their own writing identities, starting can often be tough as hell.
Most writers recommend reading as a way to get going with writing—especially reading things similar to what you, as a writer, are trying to write, or certain writers that inspire you. This is an undeniable truth. Engaging with words gets the wheels turning and makes you want to get to the keyboard or pick up a pencil. To write well is to read well, and a good writer is a good reader. Period.
While I do read for inspiration (and find it crucial), I draw inspiration from other places as well, and I think it’s important not to forget these other things. I often hear other writers discuss how they draw inspiration for topics from other arts and the world around them, but I want to focus also on the inspiration to create and put words to the page—the inspiration to get in on the action of writing. These are things I’ll be returning to over the summer.