Writer’s Terror

I have been writing a lot (when I’m writing at all) about writer’s block on my blog lately.  Because it’s on my mind.

Lately I’ve been really good about accomplishing all of the tasks that I want to do on a daily or weekly basis.  Every day I read at least one poem and I read a book for at least half an hour, I write two longhand pages worth of a journal, I try to make conversation with a stranger, I get 30 points in Duolingo, I learn something new, I even floss.

But almost every day my “30 minutes of Writing” goes unchecked.  Because once again, I haven’t managed to find 30 minutes of my time to devote to doing what is supposedly one of my life forces.

It’s pathetic.

There is so much that I could write about.  So it’s not that I don’t have ideas.

Father’s Day is coming up again and somehow every new Father’s Day brings with it new revelations about what it means to not have a living father anymore.  I have already written the first paragraph in my head, but it hasn’t edged any closer to either screen or paper.

I’ve written two thirds of what I think could be a really great children’s story, although it probably is not the picture book that I originally envisioned.  I wrote the first section more than a month ago.  The second section earlier this week.  Who knows when the third section will be written?  Hopefully sooner than the month that it took last time.

I’ve wanted to start a blog (I think I actually did create it several months ago, but I forgot my login credentials) in which I review different things like plays, movies, books, restaurants, etc.  But…I just don’t.  There are so many people already saying what they think on the internet, that it is sometimes difficult for me to see the need to add one more shout to an already overwhelming horde.

A friend of mine and I recently made a bunch of Fireball recipes.  I had mentioned that I might write a blog about the things we made.  I didn’t.  She finished hers in less than 24 hours.

So it isn’t writer’s block.

I have plenty to say.

Instead, it seems to be part fear and part exhaustion that keeps me from writing seriously.

In the last year I have slowly returned to my childhood dream of being a writer, but I’ve lost the focus of childhood. I have ideas, but I don’t know what I want to write.

When I was young, stories flowed like rapids through my being.  It was easy to write because I was so full of things to say and stories to tell that they fell out of me in games I played with my siblings and in stories I told to my cousins when we were supposed to be sleeping and, when I didn’t have people around me, they were scrawled into composition notebooks and what were supposed to be journals.

My ideas are still there, but they are not longer torrential.  They drip like spent raindrops off the corners of homes after the storm has passed.  They accumulate quietly and unobtrusively like an underground reservoir that doesn’t expect to be utilized.

The energy is gone and I am left terrified of disturbing the pacific nature of the pool containing my inspiration. What I should probably do is dive in, swim hard, and see how deep the water goes.

At least today I can say that I dipped a toe in.

On Writing With a Stutter

I just finished reading Wizard and Glass, which brings me to a very pathetic 7 books behind schedule for my “Read 100 Books in 2015” goal. Overambitious, perhaps, especially considering that I am not limiting page numbers on the books. I am trying to read a play and or a graphic novel once a week to increase my chances of making that goal, but it’s more of an idea than a practice right now.   (Plus I’m averaging 370 pages a week!  That’s good!)

I am also trying to put a review up on Goodreads (read them!) for every book that I read this year, which is what brings me here right now.

The other day I was reading an article about…writing articles.  Specifically, it was about an app that watches and records the way you write and then plays back what you wrote and how you wrote it.  It’s called Draftback. The playbacks are interesting to watch for about a minute of someone else’s work and, I would imagine, are excruciating when the writing is your own. The constant deleting and copy/pasting and subtle rewording and occasional typo (fun aside: if I was recording this you guys would have all just learned exactly how much trouble I have spelling “occasional” #perfectcomedictiming).  I have not installed Draftback and don’t plan on doing so, because I think it’s mostly a waste of time and I waste my time on enough things already.

HOWEVER.

One great value to be derived from it is the realization that sometimes you should just to fucking commit to what you’re writing.

Which brings us back to four paragraphs ago.

I was trying to write a review of Wizard and Glass and was having a tough time of it.  I would write a paragraph and then delete it.  I would add a sentence somewhere in the middle of a paragraph that I’d started and abandoned for another idea.  I would write a paragraph that was exactly the same as the last paragraph only written with slightly different words. And, throughout it all, I could not stop thinking about Draftback.  I could not stop imagining how embarrassing (another word I cannot spell) the tracking of my writing would look like.

When I watched a snippet of someone else using Draftback, all that I could think was how ridiculous most of the changes the author was making were.  The experience was very similar to watching someone adjust figurines on a desk or books on a shelf.  If your cat knocked the Superman figurine from his place of prominence in your Superhero shrine, yes, you should pick it up and put it back.  You can even spend a little time readjusting the scene if you think that’s in order.  But if you sit there for an hour constantly readjusting you are wasting your time and, at the end of the day, no one is going to notice the minuscule readjustments, least of all you.

If nothing else, Draftback makes a compelling case for this adage I am (probably not uniquely) making up right now:  “Write first. Edit second.”

Yes, there will be changes that you’ll want to make to your writing, but don’t prevent yourself from ever finishing (#hyperbole) your writing because you’re so busy editing it. Don’t write with a stutter because you can’t make it more than a paragraph without changing something in that paragraph.  Computers make editing and tweaking so easy, but there is something to be said for not tweaking everything the moment it occurs to you that you might want to make a change.

Anywho.  If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try to write a review of Wizard and Glass in one continuous shot.  No stutter.  Old school.

I forgot that I’m supposed to blog today, but I did write 500 words, which I will now post as my blog. Wutever.

500 Words.

Ugh.

It’s awful.

But it’s necessary, too.

And it’s terrible how much I have slacked in doing something so simple as committing five. hundred. measly. words. to paper.

To screen.

To whatever.

At the end of every day I am just so tired. I don’t have anything creative left over to offer to the universe. I have the energy to ease my antsy body into a tub filled with bubbles and warm water and lose myself in my cellphone (pathetic) or a book (okay) as long as I don’t spend too long in that book, because then I’ll get antsy and stop focusing and losing the train of thought and submerge myself further into the water and I dirty it with my sweatless body.

126 words.

See? Where am I supposed to find the things to say? I try to put poetry between the ideas, to hold them together with the sticky, glittery glue that is wordplay. But even that only gets me so far.

Today I wrote a review on Goodreads (DOES THAT COUNT AS MY 500!? IT COULD, COULDN’T IT?!) and I struggled to shorten it. Not because I was paying any amount of attention to the number of words logged, but because it was so awful and clunky.

I littered my writing with unnecessary adjectives and clogged up my meaning and turned a brief piece of writing into a meandering neandrethal of prose. It sounded like I was trying to be smart, like I wanted to be taken seriously and, more than anything, it sounded like I was failing to do both of those things.

I’m going to count this as my two long hand pages. It isn’t longhand (obviously) but its content is exactly what those usually are. Incredibly fragmented, journaly, and soul-lifting.

Ugh. 300 words.

Still short.

Still painfully, painfully short.

What makes it so hard to find so few things to say?

180 to go.

177.

176.

I could count down, but that would be lame.

166 lines leading downward on a page, drawing the eye ever closer to my goal of 500.

Pathetic.

Absolutely, completely, unabashedly pathetic.

Is a journal actually any better, though?

Is my bitching and moaning about how hard it is to reach the low-hanging fruit of a goal of words actually any better?

Or is it even worse?

Maybe the honesty of a count-down is better. To admit that I couldn’t even try because my brain was fried from a day full of doing absolutely nothing and simply give up (77) and count the numbers down, like a doomsday clock whose final ring will bring my salvation from what is supposedly my passion.

Which is EXACTLY what makes this so pathetic. I’m supposed to LIKE this. I’m supposed to want to do this, to look forward to this. What is wrong with me? Where did my love for the things I love go?

I feel like a broken instrument. There was so much beauty inside me once and now it’s gone.

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