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Do you feel the urge to write?

If you’re reading this, you probably do. Here’s a very simple piece of advice: sit down and start writing already. Don’t wait for the time to be right, because it will never be right.

I say this with some authority. I watched my husband run out of time to write the book he’d been burning to write.

If I am not careful, I’ll watch myself run out of steam to write the book I’ve wanted to write ever since I buried him 8 years ago.

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“Ardently do today what must be done. Who knows? Tomorrow, death comes.”
– The Buddha

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The urge to write

is what my husband and I talked about on our first date.  Having translated two books written by others, he told me it was time to write his own book in his own voice.

On our second date he showed me the template of his daily schedule. Every morning of the week was reserved for writing, from 8 am to midday. Except Tuesdays and Fridays when he went to yoga.

Every day he got up early and religiously did a long morning walk. Then he sat down at his desk and opened his laptop. He was enjoying early retirement and everything was in his favour to get on with it and write. But somehow he always found something else to do.

And yet he never stopped talking about the book. Every week he told me how he would get serious about it from the following Monday. Many Mondays passed but his writing remained sporadic. Writing, it turned out, wasn’t suited to his extrovert nature. It was too solitary, too slow and essentially too boring.

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If you feel the urge to write, please remember this:

Writing is hard work. It’s solitary, it’s boring and it’s slow. It rarely gives instant gratification. But if you have the urge and don’t listen, you will regret it. That too I learned.

When my husband got the chance to accompany me on a 4-months study abroad program, he saw it as an opportunity to give himself a time frame. For four months he’d write while I taught.

Three weeks into the program he fractured his shoulder and remained in a body brace for 3 months, which made the physical act of writing difficult and painful.

Can you see the pattern here? Things had been in his favour and suddenly they no longer were. But we got another opportunity.

Once his shoulder had healed, we hatched a plan how to give both of us a chance to write. Because I too had a secret urge to write. After 20 years of writing and publishing in an academic voice, it was finally time to explore a more creative writing voice. Using my long service leave, I negotiated a year-long sabbatical. It was to be the chance of a lifetime.

But luck was no longer on our side. On the first day of our ‘writing sabbatical’, my husband found a pea-sized lump behind his right ear. Four weeks later he had open lung surgery to remove the first of many tumours.

Overnight my husband became, in his own words, a dead man walking. It wasn’t something he felt called to write about and neither did I. Paralysed by fear, all I managed to write during those two long years of his illness was a journal. Many journals in fact.

When the cancer spread to his brain and time began to run out, the urge to write his book returned. He produced several chapters, he even submitted a short story to an anthology. But slowly, after two operations to remove a recurring brain tumour, he became too tired to concentrate. He’d nod off in front of his laptop.

Four years after we met, my husband died not having written the book he’d felt called to write.

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because since I started to teach creative writing, I’ve met countless people who feel that same urgency to write but fail to follow through.

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Many of us carry stories inside that need releasing.

And many of us do what my husband did. We – yes, I am one of those people – we come up with brilliant plans, we tell the world about our passion to write, we make genuine commitments and then … we stall. We become busy, we become bored, we become distracted. It happens to all of us.

Something else that will happen to all of us, is that while we’re busy finding excuses not to write, the story we so desperately wanted to write fades and possibly dies. It looses its urgency. That’s why it’s so important to get on with it and write while the heat is in you. 

“Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. He cannot inflame the minds of his audience.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

It’s 10 years this month since my husband’s cancer diagnosis and I still haven’t written the book about how my life fell apart, how I dug myself out of the darkness using writing as my crutch and what I learned from it.

I’ve written in creative bursts, followed by dry spells. I’ve written plenty, but I haven’t produced a first draft yet. And all of a sudden that burning desire has diminished.

I’ve lost the hot desperation to release the story, because time has done its thing and released me from it.

Today I had a frank conversation with my journal and asked it some tough questions.

What if I were given a death sentence tomorrow? What would I regret?

You got it. Not having written that book.

How about you?

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Will you regret not having followed the urge to write?

If the answer is yes, then do yourself a favour. Listen to that feeling, then sit down and write. Join me in our supportive online community or take one of our short courses to get started.

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Do you feel called to write? What’s standing in your way?
Please join me in the comments.

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6 replies
  1. Beatrice
    Beatrice says:

    I found your sharing very moving. It hit home. I do have a calling to write a book. But I think I’m crazy. I have no idea how to put a book together. No technical understanding. No grammar!
    I write in creative spurts. Since taking your 21 day course I’m writing for an hour a day. Thank you for being there.
    I’m having trouble getting accepted into the Mindful Journey FB page. Can you help me?
    I can accompany you online April through August. if that’s what you are suggesting? But not in Viet Nam. I teach through those months. Blessings.

    Reply
    • Kerstin
      Kerstin says:

      Thank you Beatrice for your kind words. If you feel called to write, just do it, don’t worry about grammar or structure in your first draft. Just get the words out. We can be online buddies via the 21-Day Group! Look forward to connecting with you about your book and to hear what you feel called to write about! Best of luck :)

      Reply
  2. Beatrice Pizer
    Beatrice Pizer says:

    Thank you for responding so quickly. Having completed the 21 day challenge and paid for 6 week mindful journaling course I’m confused. I have not received a formal acceptance into mindful journey, nor been able to get into mindful journey closed FB page. I have accepted your friend invitation on FB. Is this how it happenS. Do I connect with a buddy in the mindful course or the 21 day course. Gratitude in advance for your help

    Reply
  3. Beatrice
    Beatrice says:

    Hi Kerstin, received email saying I was now part of FB group…. but cld. not get full email, window said to ask you to send me email in a different format. Don’t know what that means. Will try accessing FB grp. Thank you,
    Beatrice

    Reply
  4. Marguerite Cook
    Marguerite Cook says:

    I have always felt the urge to write. I just never know what to write about. I don’t really have anything that has happened in my life that is worth writing about. I have always wanted to write fiction; but, everytime I get the time to write I can NEVER come up with any original ideas. Everyone has already done something I come up with. Even if mine is a little different it doesn’t feel original.

    Reply
    • Kerstin Pilz
      Kerstin Pilz says:

      I can sympathise with that Marguerite. It can feel that way, we all feel that way, even successful authors do because nothing is really original but that shouldn’t stop you from writing. I have a new course starting in the new year to kickstart your creativity. I hope you will join me! I will send the details in the December newsletter!

      Reply

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