There is something okay in intensity. Sometimes we need it to break apart the invisible hold of complacency. Why can’t one be here and have that be enough? I know that inside, I would be suffocated by the quiet and the silence and the complacency. Too much of nothing can be as severe as too much of everything. Sometimes one cancels out the hold of the other and then you are left in a place of evenness, a straight line. It is a restart. Here is the first chapter.
UM, that’s a lot better than I could ever do. I got up to around 4 per week while working with WBEZ. I wrote three essays or articles per week and could occasionally squeeze in something else for another publication like The FADER or Buzzfeed or FLAUNT. The pace that you’re currently at seems pretty amazing to me.
I tried to write more than 4 per week and I eventually burned out, unable to form a complete written thought for close to two months. That is why I cherish my tumblr because it is, at its core, a fun place of escape. Whenever I feel like I can’t get anything out professionally, I turn to this site, where the stakes are lower, but the rewards are much the same, or even greater.
What matters most is that you do what you are comfortable with and can handle. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew. There is the nagging concern when you have a day job compared to other friends without that structure. Are you missing out? Are you pushing yourself as much as you can? But sometimes we take the 9-5 because we have to. Sometimes we also take it because it pushes us in ways we never imagined.
I had effectively stopped writing frequently before I started working in my current company. I was employed at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, a place I love more than anywhere else. I was stimulated everyday, all the time, always. It was a second education and I was soaking it in. But a change of environment, more structure, less “creativity” pushed me toward getting back to my writing. If I was spending all of my time doing this other thing, then I needed to take time for myself, my thoughts, and my ideas.
Thank you for this!
My writing process is not always the same, but I do have a couple of similar habits. Most of my ideas, outlining, and actual stories are first written down in my notebook. I bring it with me almost everywhere I go as you never know when an idea will spark.
I also have been known to write full essays in my phone. It’s been more difficult with a smart phone. The one and only reason why I miss my Blackberry was the ease in which I could type. I used to take long train rides to and from the city when I lived with my parents after college and my Blackberry was a great way to collect my thoughts.
For published pieces, I typically get an idea and then publish it. I get commissioned for a lot of straight-forward journalism rather than the essay-based writing I’m more known for.
Sometimes, an idea for an essay or story happens in the moment, so you must write whatever you can while you’re there. I’ve written essays in the back of concerts and on the dance floor at my favorite clubs. All I really need is a quite corner and a tool to get the thoughts down.