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Write First!

By Patricia Sorgi

I don’t refer to myself as an expert in anything – a little issue with self-esteem with which I struggle, but today, I proclaim to be an expert in Procrastination and Someday.

I get it. Life throws crap at you so fast and so often we are blindsided by bad, good, and scandalous news, emails you subscribe to, politics de jour, and workplace gossip. There are, too, real-world quandaries to fret over and be distracted by: climate change; “Believe it or not!” Twitter wars with people you will never, ever meet and who will never put a morsel of food or drink into your yapping mouth - these are the real distractions that pretend to be more important than your writing (substitute any form of art for writing here if you will – preferably a medium that takes time, effort, practice, etc.)

One of the chapters in my upcoming book, HOW NOT TO LIVE YOUR LIFE, publication date not yet established goes something like this: “HOW NOT TO BE A WRITER; Do The Dishes Instead.” Within the chapter, I detail the many ways I have successfully avoided becoming who I’ve longed to become since elementary school. I guarantee, if you are struggling to become the published writer you’ve dreamed of being – you will relate to many of the scenarios. I will bypass what you already know and instead tell you how to get back on track. It’s very simple. Ready? Here it is:

When you get up in the morning to start your day, WRITE FIRST. Sure, okay have a cup of coffee, take the dogs out before they pee on the carpet again, meditate – okay fine – DO ALL THAT, but then prod your sleepy PC, fire up your killer Macbook, demand obedience from Google docs, or crack open your 7th spiral-bound notebook from Fringe Studio with an inspirational quote on its cover and Write Your Ass Off. Do this Every Day.

That’s it. This you must do. I repeat, you must (should) do this. Get up, do the things nature insists upon, and then write before you do anything else.

If perhaps you are someone without children, someone who works the a.m. shift at Denny’s, or simply not a morning person, you can amend this rule to suit your lifestyle if it is truly necessary. But even you, night owl – even you should write first thing at the crack of noon. I know some writers who swear that if you are an early riser, then you cannot be a “real” writer. Real writers are slovenly, unkept, have greasy hair, and wear white sneakers. I, too, used to be a night owl. I slept in late, attended pre-afternoon college classes, clocked in as a waitress by 3 p.m., and then went home to write (and drink) from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Admittedly, I got a lot of writing done during those hours. Mostly college assignments and essays, though I did some personal creative writing, too. Most of it was crap - but I did it. I remember one evening reciting some of my poetry to a new boyfriend and his friends and their girlfriends. (I was also a theater student so I read them with the appropriate level of drama and emotion). I forgot my boyfriend’s name. We weren’t together long. I can’t say for certain if my poetry was to blame, but I don’t think it helped.

Regardless – that is not my point here. We all write garbage at first. The garbage has to come out before finding the good stuff that still has some edible meat on the bones, you know? If you aren’t making writing a priority though, you’ll wallow in the garbage phase and feel defeated by your own self-criticism.

It is imperative to write first thing in the morning because as a doggone GROAN-UP (see what I did there? groan, not grown – that was intentional), your day will be obliterated by everyone’s needs but your own. This is what happens. Especially if people in your life, though they love you, think your writing is cute, an adorable hobby often said with a sigh, “If it keeps her happy…” Listen up! The people who love you and who say they want you to be happy? They do not care if your writing time is interrupted. In general, most people think one can write anytime, anywhere! Just whip it out like a college frat boy on a Tinder date! (Oh, how I wish that were true!) Our friends, families think nothing of that tappy-tappy you do on your laptop. “Big deal! It will still be there when you come back!”

However, they are not to blame for not taking you seriously. More than likely, it’s clear to everyone around you that you are not serious about your goals. Hmm, scratch “goals” – your dreams… because you aren’t.

If you took your writing, screenwriting, poetry – name your art, for feck’s sake. If you truly believe it matters? You would show it respect. You would make it a priority. Like a new lover, you would wake up early to greet it and even if you were tired, you would show it some love and attention.

The people who distract you from your work, these people who love you (or despise you, really, it makes no difference how they feel about you), these people just simply do not understand the importance it has in your life and they never will unless you make money from it. Until you make money though? These people will say secretly and bluntly to your face that you need to get a real job.

Frankly, they are right. You need something to support you while you write. You need a job-job. Great. Everyone does. The next challenge is how to not let your job-job eat your soul and whisper with Linda Blair's exorcist flair that you are not a writer. Your job-job will kill you ever so slowly; minute, by hour, by month, by year – it will eat at you unless you show it what matters to you. How are you going to do that? How will you not lose heart?

You write first.

By writing first, you tell your conscious and subconscious self that you are a writer and that you mean business. It shows that you respect the craft, you respect yourself and what drives you, lights you up, and brings you joy and satisfaction. Not only that, if all else goes wrong on any given day, you can say something like, “Well, my boyfriend left me, my cat puked on my favorite sweater, and I got fired for the third time this year, but at least I wrote today. I did good.”

Try it out. Write first thing in the morning for a minimum of 21 days and see how you feel on day 22. Even better – check out all you’ve accomplished. But before you take the time to admire yourself on day 22, make sure you write first. Then go ahead, gloat, and feel awesome. Show it to some friends. Read it out loud to your boyfriend. (Actually, maybe not do that). Read it aloud to yourself and a friend you know for a fact roots for you and is in your corner. Prepare to be amazed and super proud of yourself, you writer person. Ya done good.

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