On ‘The act of Not Writing’

Today I would like to talk about writing. To be more specific, I want to talk about not being able to write. Of course, I don’t mean some kind of debilitating infliction by which my hands can no longer move and I am left attempting to train a series of parrots-each with their own keyboard–to respond to an intricate series of whistles and mouth pops that will instruct them on which letters to type on my behalf

That would be absurd. Instead, let’s discuss the sheer inability to will yourself to write down words. Some call it ‘writer’s block.’ I call it a revolving wheel of apathy, personal failure, and extreme paranoia caused by an overactive superiority complex.

I guess that doesn’t fit on a t-tshirt, so let’s just refer to this phenomenon from this point out as The Cycle.

The problem with The Cycle is that much like depression, you may not even realize that you’re stuck in it. Even when things are going great and you’re a productive monstrosity the likes of which a thousand grad students have never seen you can still be inching closer towards that great cliff of not giving two craps.

It’s a vicious cycle: You write, things go okay for awhile, your production slows down because you’re oh-so proud of yourself for sticking with it this time and how smart you sound, and suddenly you spend more time thinking about writing than you are doing it. You try to write, but every time you do you’re weighted down by the crippling fear of not writing as well as you did long long ago, last month. The fear pushes you back further and further and morphs into apathy. You begin telling yourself that if you can’t bring yourself to write then you must not be that great in the first place.

So, you stop. But, because you’re a writer you still think about the fact that it is all you’ve ever wanted to do. You went to school to write. You dedicated your free time and effort into doing it despite the fact that you aren’t getting paid. You talk about it as if you’re Ernest Freaking Hemmingway. That apathy turns into anger and you begin to accuse yourself internally.

“This is all your fault for not striving to hone your craft, you lazy sod! You became so worried about thinking that writing about computer games is somehow going to impress anyone that you forgot the writing part of the writing! Go fix it…And make some toast while you’re at it!”

After you’ve made that toast and mull over the fact that you’re currently in a lover’s quarrel with your inner dialog, you make a decision. It doesn’t matter how insecure you are about the words that spew from your brain to the screen. It doesn’t matter that you start convincing yourself that the inability to write the next piece right when you think you have to is the most important thing about writing. It doesn’t even matter that there is a sweet release in letting go of the utter bull that comes along with trying to write at a level that doesn’t get you mocked by your co-workers who–in your head–don’t consider you to be a real writer.

You just do it. The Cycle will always be there, watching and waiting. That’s fine. It’s just part of the grand process of being brazen enough to commemorate your words to something final and physical. The important part is to not let the whole thing make you think that you’re not good enough to ever start the cycle back up again once it runs it’s course.

You always are, and The Cycle is always ready for another go.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go think many important thoughts that will never turn into anything concrete…Until next week.

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