What’s The Lesson?

If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself during the pandemic, it’s that I love a timeline.

Once I know when something is going to happen — even if it’s ages away — I’m happy. Having a date in mind makes me relax. I can stop fretting about The Thing because I know when Future Laura will get to it.

Unfortunately, many moments in pandemic life have refused to be pinned to anything so arbitrary as a date.

Puppy training, vaccination schedules, travel guidelines… all of it refuses to bend to my will.

And though I’ve got a good writing habit established, creativity can be just as recalcitrant.

Good ideas show up when they’re ready, not when you’re ready. A burst of energy happens late at night when you’ve spent all day trying to get it together. The resolution to a particularly tangly problem just wakes up with you one morning after months of effort.

Try as we might, growth and creativity happen on their own schedules.

Yes, we can invite them to join us on our preferred timelines (by showing up consistently, working through resistance and recharging regularly).

But good writing will not be coerced. We will not white-knuckle inspiration or clarity onto the page.

Ultimately, we’ve got to be willing to put in our best efforts, and surrender the result. Sometimes it will gorgeous, other times a mess, and that’s what makes writing so powerful.

It teaches us resilience and lateral thinking and it prods us into finding a way forward when there is no obvious path to follow.

So if your writing isn’t cooperating right now, don’t take it personally. Don’t rage quit or freak yourself out, worrying about when it will get back on track.

Keep on keeping on, turning up at the page, knowing that when the time is right, the lesson will land and you’ll be away again.