Writing is an illness. Writers have to write, and yet they will do anything in their power to avoid writing.
For two weeks, I’ve been abominably bad about writing, because I just haven’t felt like doing it. I’ve been doing my morning pages, keeping up with this blog, playing computer games, decluttering the house, and doing all kinds of other things (including kayaking!), but I’ve barely touched my writing projects. This can’t continue, both in the long run and in the short — the Hedgebrook application is due in a week. And yet “I don’t feel like writing” isn’t a problem that goes away for good. So, both to get myself out of it today and to help myself with it in future, I think it’s time for another round of Asking Simple Questions… (hey, that spells ASQ! hee!)
Q:Why don’t you feel like writing?
A (whiny voice): It’s too hard!
Q: What’s so hard about it?
A (still whiny): It takes too long. And it’s too much work to make it good.
Q: Does it have to take a long time? Could you just write for, say, 20 minutes at a time? That’s half the time it takes to do your morning pages every day.
A: I guess so…
A (suddenly offended): Hey, but it’s going to take longer than that to make it good! I can’t get by on 20 minutes a day of writing!
Q: It’s 20 minutes more than you’ve done for the past week.
A (caught): Bah.
And so it goes… a mental exchange like this is usually good enough to get me started, but pretty soon I’m back to the start again, and have to repeat the whole process. Sometimes it helps to remind myself why I’m writing, what my goals are, and what I want to make of my life. Sometimes I think of myself in fifty years, mediocre at everything, and that gets the fire going under my butt. But sometimes I just want to crawl into a hole and hide until then (or, more realistically, sit in front of the computer playing Chocolatier and pretending nothing else exists).
The only thing you can control about writing is your commitment to it. You can’t control publishers, readers, or even your own talent — but doing it every day is a call you can make.
This is what I really have to remind myself. The only thing I can do is just write, as often and as much as I can, and after that que será será. I’m not writing to make something good, to prove myself to the world, or to publish a brilliant and original oeuvre of prose and graphic novels. I write because I hope these things will happen, but in the meantime the only choice I have is to sit down and do it. Every day, if possible. Just 20 minutes at a time, even when I don’t feel like it because I’m afraid it won’t be worth it. If I can’t write with delighted inspiration, I can write with grim determination… and that’s what I will go do now.