Why I don't write

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In re-reading an old interview with Maria Popova of Brain Pickings, I found this:

 

Do you believe in “writer’s block”? If so, how do you avoid it?

I think the operative word here is “believe.” If you fixate on it, it’ll be there. It’s kind of like insomnia – the more you think about not being able to fall asleep, the less able to fall asleep you become.

It’s different for everyone, of course, but I find that you break through that alleged “block” simply by writing. As Tchaikovsky elegantly put it, “A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”

I’m fixating on my writer’s block. It’s now a friendship that I’ve neglected for so long that it’s awkward to try to reconnect. “Hey, how have you been? I heard about that thing. Sorry I haven’t been in touch.” Like when you accidentally let a phone call or text message go unanswered for too long and then bump into the sender at the store and try to hide behind a box of cereal.

I thought I’d make a list of reasons that I don’t write. And then dismantle them and start writing. Could be fun.

  1. Balancing privacy. It’s no secret that my #1 topic of choice right now is Clark. For writing to be shared publicly, though, I’m trying to figure out what is mine to share. My stories of motherhood versus Clark’s own stories of growing up, stories that he may wish I had kept private. When I take those topics off the table, a large part of what is left is about my work. I haven’t figured out that balance yet, the topics I’m comfortable writing about and the ones that are appropriate to share here. I’m in that strange position of having a sorta, kinda, just a little bit visible professional role and I’m aware of the need for discernment in which bits of my personal life and privately-held opinions to share.

  2. No conclusions. I’m firmly in an era of having very few conclusions to share. No parenting tips, no solutions for work-life balance, no well-researched and -tested perspectives on our current dumpster fire political and cultural climate. I hate the not knowing.

  3. My creative energy, the generative forces and ideas, is mostly directed at my work right now, with only a little bit of energy left over for personal writing.

  4. I don’t want advice, concern or sympathy. Each time I share something even slightly vulnerable, the messages start coming in telling me how I can fix it, reassuring me that I’m great and messages that generally just embody what Brené Brown calls an empathetic miss.

  5. Who am I to write? Why should my voice be heard?

  6. Perfectionism. That gets us all, doesn’t it?

 

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.

[…]

Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here — and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.”

-Anne Lammot in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (via Brain Pickings)

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In honor of this prolonged season of writer’s block, I’ve joined #The100DayProject. I found it through my mom, an artist, and grabbed onto it slightly late and off-schedule, but here I am nonetheless. I’m trying to write a little something every day and sharing about it most days on my Instagram stories. See you there.