Thursday, May 28, 2009

About writing, and not writing

It’s strange, really. When you promise yourself that you will write, and you are determined to write, you still end up with nothing. It can be days, months, years... and you want to write so badly, but you can't.

But if you ever get started, really get going, you can't stop.

Why then, you wonder, won’t you do it more often? If it is so pleasant, if it is so easy, how come it is so difficult to get started?

It can take weeks, and sometimes there’s no inspiration at all. Then, when inspiration hits, there’s no time to sit down and write down all the ideas, not even a second. Because you know that a few words will lead to a few sentences, which will lead to a few pages, which will get you sitting there for ages, and there’s no way to stop. So instead, it never happens.

Instead, the paper remains empty, the pens uncapped. A few Post-It notes have ink stains, but that’s it.

My friend Nina has no problems with this - she writes about anything at any time, and she does it so well. I recently came across a book from when she and I had a writing marathon in 2002 - we were supposed to exchange books at the end, but I never finished mine. Reading through it now, I realize most it is garbage, and I start ripping out the pages.

My problem is that I like to organize too much. My half-finished projects get organized into binders and computer folders. There are poems, short stories, travel pieces, blog topics and, of course, the "other" folder for things that don't belong anywhere. I even have categories for my ideas so I can sort them and put them into the computer before I have a chance to ponder over them in chronological order. This, of course, is so I won't forget that one brilliant idea I may one day have.

Then, of course, if I ever do end up writing anything, I have to re-write it again and again until I am satisfied, which means nothing ever gets finished. Sometimes I work on the things I least care about just so I can get them done and out of the way. But this means there's no time left for "the real stuff."

Sometimes I just sit and wonder what it would be like to be able to write. Write more often. Write something good. Or just write something.


ab said...

"I have to rewrite everything..."

Ah, but there's where you have to handle yourself!

For instance: I used to be really inspired in the mornings, but as the day went by, I became more and more critical of my work, until at the end of the day, I didn't like any of it.

The solution? Simple! I just stopped writing around 1 PM. I didn't touch the thing after that, while there was still something left of it. Then, the next morning, I could continue after changing just a few things, and finally the book in question was finished.

You might try something similar. Value your own work, treat it with some reverence. It will come to something in the end. Good luck!

Anne Sofie said...

But you're a blogger (besides being a journalist) and you write a lot, and quite a few pieces aren't just blog postings but really, really good. Don't underestimate yourself!

Vickan said...

Thanks, guys.

I actually wrote part of this many years ago and found it recently and revamped it for the blog last night. It still applies.

I do love to write, but there are so many other things to do, too!

I prefer to write between midnight and 4 a.m., but sometimes I don't get home from work until 2 a.m. and then I'm tired and want to go to bed. Can't get any writing done in the mornings.