Break the rules

It’s not what I expect to hear myself say on a normal day. It’s not what I’d say on any day, to be more precise.

I’ve always been a rule-driven person. Why? I’m not so sure. It’s not so much a nurturing principle as it is a natural instinct. Order comforts me, soothes me and covers me like a warm blanket on a cold, winter’s night. (It’s nearly summer now but that’s besides the point).

Break the rules, Writing

Ever since the beginning of the year a part of me wanted to streamline this entire act of blogging and bring some order and structure into the process. Why? Was I trying to prove a point to the world at large or was I doing it as a way to soothe my inflated ego? Oh, we’ve all got those egos, let’s not kid ourselves; we’re self-obsessed.

As a famous movie character once asked sardonically, ‘Well, what do you think a blog is?’

No, the reason I wanted structure was so I could participate in the community aspect of blogging and a tiny part of me hoped that it would also allow me time to focus on my memoir. Oh gosh, that damn thing is never going to get written, is it? I mean, for the number of times I have spoken about it, I positively cringe any time someone casually asks me in passing, ‘So, how’s the book coming along?’

What do I say? Do I smile self-deprecatingly and say ‘Oh, it’s going on?’ Or do I shuffle my feet in embarrassment and admit that it hasn’t moved an inch past what I achieved back in November during the NaNoWriMo?

The crushing truth of the matter came home to me a few minutes ago and the feeling was so overpowering that I broke one of my first rules of blogging and wrote a second blog post in a single day. (For the record, it’s bad form. Don’t do it!)

And the truth is this: I’ve not pushed myself to do it because I haven’t ‘felt’ it. Ugh, just writing that is making me nauseous. I have no right to call myself a writer. None.

I have none of the resolve of a budding author brimming with the fire of agony to see one’s name in print. I shy away from the possibility of a bad review of my yet-to-be-published memoir (perhaps never-to-be-published). I make excuses. Damn, I make excuses!

But that’s the point about writing. It should compel you, overwhelm you, squeeze your innards so hard that you cannot breathe until you’ve got those words out in your word processor or diary. Because everything else is a feeble excuse that falls by the wayside when you attempt to sheepishly grin, shrug and say, ‘I’ll write when I feel like it.’

When am I going to feel like it? Tomorrow, the day after, next week, next month? When? There is never going to be a right time! Ever. Something will always come up- work commitments, blogging calendar, social media engagement- the bloody list is endless and unforgivably so!

I’ve got cheerleaders in the wings- the silent, hidden friends who say, ‘I’m here for you and I believe you can do it.’ I’m beginning to think they need to up their game and oh, I don’t know, hold a gun to my head? Then I wonder, why is this their role? They are here to motivate me, not help me actually write. No, I’ve got to do that. Alone.

And that’s not going to happen unless I break some self-imposed rules of blogging and wriggle out of the shell of complacence and put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

Do I want to see the work out there? Yes!

Do I want to be a published writer? Hell, yeah!

So what on earth am I doing, sitting around making excuses, frittering away my time on social media  and ‘building a brand’ when I can be using all that time to study the craft of writing, hone my senses, listen to the right voices?

Why am  I not writing?

Your guess is as good as mine. Time to pick up the slack.


45 thoughts on “Break the rules

  1. Not so much OCD as a need to finish something by a self-imposed rule 🙂 Yes, changing things around a bit to make sure I write daily 🙂 Thanks for all the support, Seeya 🙂

  2. Ha ha ha, trust you to put it all in perspective 😀 Yes, yes, back to the grind and I don’t know what a vision board is but I love the sound of it!

    Off to check it out soonest!

  3. It’s back, Kala 🙂 The momentum is back. I guess I just needed to dig deep and find that impulse within for it to start flowing again! And it’s here and I’m not letting go, any time soon 🙂

  4. I think you’re absolutely right. A large part of it is fear, fueled in part by the fact that I am juggling a lot on the personal front. So it was comfortable for me to make excuses for not writing. No more. I’m determined to write now. Come what may!

  5. Thank you so much, Samra! I’m glad you found the language easy to read. I aim for that when writing 🙂 Thank you too for all your support!

  6. I have just refilled the blue liquid in my old pen and exercising my pen and brains. Break the rules……. wish there were no rules to be broken. But order and sanity has to reign.

  7. By order and rules, did you mean OCD? Well I do that often. But you see, you should try to break the habit n try the”orderly” thing in a different way. It makes you feel sometimes that yes, change is not so bad.

    Cheerleaders yes. Will help you in this. I read your tweets about memoir regularly. Iikr the way you frame sentences. So waiting for it to get published.

  8. Preach 🙂

    I identified with almost everything you said, about the fear and procrastination and whatever it is that keeps us from going for it. I know that I always feel better once I start writing….but often the starting is so hard!!

  9. I can’t dole out any advice on this, because I am the queen of procrastination.
    But now I see I have company, soul sister. With you, I am never alone – not in the organised list-making OCD tendencies, nor in the procrastination. I love you. <3

    On another note – have you tried a vision board? It helps me. I used to clutter it with all kinds of things, but now I just focus on what I want most – my immediate next goal or two.

    Also, the morning thing worked for you right? In November? Why don't you try that again? And you are worrying about the possibility of negative review in the distant future of a yet unpublished book. :O 😐 *pats the gun in her pocket*

  10. Oh Shailaja, you have expressed your angst at the situation so well! I don’t know why this happens but something that was all-consuming at one point in our lives ceases to be so over time. So sad! In your case probably it is that particular momentum hasn’t come back to you. A fine writer like you not feeling like it…, no not done. If you genuinely believe in your ideas they will come through sooner or later. Till then, hands down on the processor, you are surrounded from all sides by your well-wishers and fans, guns loaded!

  11. Often when I’m procrastinating, if I dig deep, I find that what is holding me back is fear. Once you identify what you are afraid of (bad reviews, failing, judgement, whatever) ‘sometimes’ you can move on and get on with it. But go ahead and break the rules… who makes the blogging rules anyway? Good luck!

  12. While rules do bring order and comfort, for some reason, laziness being a big part, I am not a rule person. The unpredictability and satisfaction of unfound spontaneity is a driver in itself. But agree, that cant take you very far.

    Go, write that book. Being a rule-person is already job half done 😛 The other half is to just sit and write.

    I really like your language. Its simple yet elegant.

  13. This ennui too shall pass Shailaja. I am already impressed with the rate at which you blog. And I am sure you just need to shed off that inertia to start it off again and you will off like the wind. All the best to you 🙂

  14. ha ha ha, thank you Tarang. Long comments are always welcome 🙂 It shows that you cared enough to leave a comment and I love you for that.

    I have started again. Picked up the pace and got more ideas as to how to progress. Thank you for sharing your journey too. I know rejection is hard and I admire your resolve to keep going!

  15. Thank you Carol! I so needed to hear that! I know. If I REALLY want this, I MUST make time for it and I am determined to make sure that I do. Thanks again for the support and I love you for sharing that <3

  16. Don’t over plan 🙂 That can be unsettling. Start off slow, allow yourself time to visit others, read more and take in more inspiration. Else you’ll have burnout 🙂

  17. Yes yes! Started yesterday, madam 😀 If we make time. Yes, I have been neglecting it big time and no more. Will make it a point now. Everyday, like brushing my teeth. Thank you and big hugs 😀

  18. No this is more about not making time to write. I just started yesterday and hope I can maintain the momentum 🙂 Thanks for the support, Jaish!

  19. See, now you’ve committed yourself to the task, so you’d better stick to it 😉

    Thanks for all the support. Really means a lot 🙂

  20. I am pretty sure your excuses are more valid than the excuses I make to run away from my blogging responsibilities *hides face*
    I had planned to take part in challenges on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, ensuring that I have three posts for the week as a minimum. And plus one post on Saturday on any topic.
    And I’ve already broken my rule. In the first week of its inception.
    *shows you list of excuses* – classes, homework, festival shopping, dancing in front of the mirror, reading Zodiac posts, etc.
    My novel is just sitting down in one of the folders, waiting for me to think of some rescue operation for it.

    Just get writing. And show us all the way in which we can stay focused to our tasks always! 🙂

    Three cheers! 😀

  21. He he he, you caught that one 😉 I only write all writing-related posts on this blog and I try not to trouble my faithful readers with two posts in one day 😉

    Oh but I love what you said! Some days or most days I must write trash to find the diamond in the rough. So true. And yes, begun in earnest this morning. You shall have the book in your hands soon!

  22. Do what I did. Just put it all down. I know it sounds easy and some days it is. Try it and tell me how you feel. I felt loads better after writing this and reading the comments 🙂

  23. I know this feeling. Few months back, my every article got rejected by magazines I submitted them to. It was even more frustrating as I had been published to these magazines before. “What’s wrong?” I used to think. Then, this frustrating phase passed and I published 6 articles in three different magazines. of course, it is not the end of my struggles as a writer. I still get rejected, don’t even get replies at that.

    It is sad when you reject yourself. Let your work rest for some time. Your pen might stop working (temporarily) but your mind keeps going endlessly (sometimes, painfully) and keeps storing facts and ideas for you. Since you’re writing a memoir, facts and ideas are less likely to escape your mind, still it’s best to write them down. Good, bad or ugly, it is important to collect your thoughts and ideas in the form of first draft.

    And, rules for blogging? Are you serious? I think blog is a personal space for creative comfort and freedom. Break away…Life gives us enough rules to follow, no?

    Sorry, my comment seems longer than your post. 🙂

  24. Sharing this with your blogging friends was the first step — you just need that boost. From the comments below, you know how much support you have. So, just do it! You can and I believe you will. It took 10 years for my daughter to convince me to write my memoir. I wish I had listened to her in the first year. Time is always an issue, of course, so I put it on my calendar. My time to write was when everyone else was in bed and it became a habit I looked forward to — you will find the time because you really want this!

  25. Babe!! Writing this down is a good way of holding yourself accountable, but don’t beat yourself up either! I know you can do it, and if by April-May, I don’t see signs of a near-finished memoir, I will hold the proverbial gun as well, don’t be fooled by my gentle nature ;).

  26. Come on, woman. Seriously what is stopping you? Just let in an hour daily and write. Remember our SURGE meet? After I heard about Duolingo, l came back home and installed the App on the same day and renewed learning French. Have been doing it slow and steady for 2-3 weeks now. The point being that we make time if it is important enough. And l know the memoir is to you. So key in the time early morning when you are nice and fresh. Get up. Move that butt. No more excuses!

  27. I understand…. Ideas sometimes come charging when there is no time to write and when we sit to write a blank state is what we face! Happens all the time

  28. I’m stunned to read your post! You’ve got to write that book and finish it as well.. And the list.. It will always be there and you will have umpteen tasks to complete, but you will have to decide which task comes first..

    All the best 🙂


  29. Go break the rules, Shailaja.
    Also, ref. your cheerleader comment – sometimes the motivation helps.
    Think of it as your cheerleaders holding up a large whiteboard with your thoughts written out on it.
    Well, the rest we’ve already discussed.
    Onwards and upwards – word count wise – Shy 🙂

  30. You have a rule of not writing two blog posts on one day? Why? Specially when you have two blogs. Also, sometimes you cannot sit around and wait to ‘feel’ like writing. Sometimes it doesn’t come pouring out, so to say. You’ve to sit and write worthless stuff maybe for a while till it decides to start pouring. Get down to it Shailaja. I want to read that book.

  31. I kept nodding while reading this! Happens all the time.. every single time! Ideas come and go and all I do is let them go, hoping them to return some day when the time is write.. 🙁

  32. I just feel so disappointed with myself at this moment. If I actually made a list of every excuse ever, the list would never end! I am kicking myself so hard I can feel the hurt. Sigh. No more. You’re right. The time is here and the time is now!

  33. And yet you have written so much.. There’s one thing you wrote that I can’t help but agree to without a moments delay – that there are going to be so many other things to do and the time to write that we are waiting for is here and now.

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