“Be a machine.”
I read a lot of advice for writers that demands this of us. Stick to daily word counts. Be a machine. Write every day. Be a machine. Ignore distractions. Be a machine. Let nothing deter you.
This is great advice. If you are, in fact, a machine.
But I’m not a machine. I’m a person.
Writing is a job, sure. Like any other job, if you want to make headway, you’ve got to be committed.
And like any other job, you have to balance time. You might turn out more work if you’re a machine, but do we really want to just churn out work at the risk of missing out on other important life events?
It’s so easy for me to withdraw. So easy for me to not return calls, not answer the door, not make plans outside of my writing schedule.
It would be easy for me to drop off the face of the planet, just stay in my house and write, write, write. I like to be alone, typing away. Sometimes I think I like it too much.
I could stay inside and write forever. Rarely leave. I could churn out book after book after book. The ideas are there. The movies of future manuscripts play like a loop in my mind, over and over. Because of this, sometimes I forget.
I forget the fragile beauty of late autumn leaves.
I forget how wet concrete feels beneath bare feet.
I forget about the wind.
I forget my kids will never be this exact age again. Of course there is always tomorrow – but tomorrow they will be one day older.
I forget to have real conversations with my husband, conversations that don’t involve me talking while typing.
I forget to call and check in on my mom.
I forget to nurture friendships.
I forget I’m not a machine.
I’m a human being who is a writer. I need to stop and take breaks. How sad would it be if I died tomorrow, and my last significant touch was that of a keyboard?
Stop, play with the baby. Look into her eyes.
Hold my husband’s hand.
Listen with full mind about my son’s day at school.
Go outside. Touch the leaves. Feel the raindrops.
Stop. Remember. Feel.
We aren’t created to be machines.