activism and writing

February 3, 2017

I got really overwhelmed this past week, with book release stuff and also trying to keep up with the news. I’ll actually be really happy when this president takes his first vacation — maybe we’ll get an outrage break. Just a couple of days. Please.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed and despairing in this environment. As someone who’s never really done activism before, I’ve been trying to figure out: How do I manage? How do I keep on without feeling constantly overwhelmed and helpless?

I’ve decided:  It’s like writing a novel.

People tell me all the time:  I want to write a novel, I would love to write a novel, but I don’t know how, where do I even start?  A whole novel, it’s too big.  That’s a huge goal, overwhelming if you try to think of it all at once.  That’s why so many people never even start.  They see a big chunk of pages with tens of thousands of words and it’s too much.  When you’ve been writing emails and making phone calls and then one of your senators declares that he doesn’t have to listen to you because he thinks you’re a paid protestor — it’s easy to curl up in a corner and scream, right?

Here’s what I tell people about writing novels:  Don’t write a novel.  Write a page.  A single page.  Do that every day for a year.  That’s 365 pages — a novel. Write a scene.  Write a sentence.  Then another.  Nobody ever writes a novel — people write bits and pieces of a novel, over a long stretch of time.  Eventually, all that work becomes a novel. You have to put in the work, every day.

I’m trying to start looking at political activism the same way.  “Stop Trump” is too big.  Changing the political course that man is setting the country on?  Too much to fix all at once.  Can’t be done.

But I can march.  I can write letters. I can call.  I can vote.  (New action list item:  Get Cory Gardner out of office.  He’s up for re-election in 2020, and holy cow we can do this thing.)  Little things.  Baby steps.  Manageable steps.  I can do that.

Let’s see what happens in a year.



4 Responses to “activism and writing”

  1. howardbrazee Says:

    Like writing a novel – expect that you will need to keep writing. And plan to keep writing when you’re finished. Remember Occupy Wall Street? The other guys figure they can wait you out.

  2. carriev Says:

    My #1 advice to people who’ve already written novels is to start the next one.

  3. Jazzlet Says:

    Every now and then review what you have done, remind yourself of that work because even if in the end an individual call or letter didn’t make a diference each helped you learn to be a more effective activist and/or that your energy could be better spent somewhere else – like getting getting Cory Gardner out of office rather than calling or writing to him. And link up with like minded people so you can pull each other through the inevitable bad patches.

  4. Donna Mazur Says:

    Thanks for the link to Cory’s comments. I live in Co. and had not seen that before! Add to to-do list: Send invoice for protesting to Cory Gardner.

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