On Having to Write Vs Getting to Write

I am taking up my Journal again after a long break. I think it may be a way of calming this nervous excitement that has been worrying me for so long. — Eugène Delacroix

Nervous excitement is right, Eugène. I’ve been staring at this word processor for about half an hour, feeling the pressure mounting in my head to the point where I can’t write anything at all. To paraphrase Ted Hughes, I feel like a statue of a woman writing instead of the real thing.

I feel like I have to write.

I haven’t written since Tuesday and I don’t know what to write about now and I’m stressing out to the max.

I want to go on with the short story I’ve started, the Bee Farm. I think that’s something that could turn out to be really good.

But I don’t know where to go next or really remember what happened last (without re-reading it). Surely that’s a bad sign.

Maybe writing shouldn’t ever be something that I feel like I have to do. It’s okay; I have a day job. I am not relying on writing to feed or clothe myself.

Thank fuck.

I wonder if I’m going to get that Irish Arts Council grant. Then I’ll have to work on the dieselpunk Irish War of Independence novel that I told them I’d write if they funded me.

And I have no idea what to do with that or where to go with that either.

Is not the poet bound to write his own biography? Is there any other work for him but a good journal? We do not wish to know how his imaginary hero, but how he, the actual hero, lived from day to day. — Henry David Thoreau

Maybe I can’t write because my brain is running around in the past or the future or that awful what if realm. What if I never publish anything again? What will that make me?

Maybe I should use Headspace. Or do the hoovering. Or go for a walk with the dog. That’ll clear my mind, and then I’ll be able to write.

Except.

Except I won’t. I’ll just find more stuff to heap in-between myself and the act of writing.

Does this count as writing?

I keep starting at the word count rising steadily and thinking that I’m a hack; that this doesn’t count as writing; that at best this is journaling and we all know what I think about that (verbose masturbation).

Although maybe keeping a journal does count as something. I Googled benefits of keeping a journal and found some links which I’ll share below.

This is yet another thing that I’m piling between myself and my writing.

Beckett wrote something to that effect in one of his plays I think. The things we use to distract ourselves from the dark meaninglessness of existence.

I’m nearly at 500 words already. I think perhaps this does count as writing. I’m easing myself back into that world where my characters live, like stepping into a warm bath.

I keep touching the cut on my elbow, feeling the hurt, and then not wanting to touch it again before, yes, touching it again.

Maybe writing and not writing is like that.

2 thoughts on “On Having to Write Vs Getting to Write

  1. I like the analogy at the end, very good.

    I journal, and have done off and on most of my life, lots of large gaps though. But since my breakdown in 2008 and then suddenly making the connection between my desire to write and needed to express myself as a kind of mental therapy, I developed 3 – one for my marriage, one for my paranoia(friends), and one for self-help stuff I did (courses, things I read and wanted to keep, or that triggered a stream of thoughts). I now just have one, more like a diary, but I don’t write every day. I write when I need to, when stuff is spinning. It’s where I ask all the questions and try and find solutions. A friend calls them Morning pages.

    In terms of aiding my actually writing, all I can say is ‘meh’. But it does free up my headspace.

    I think it is a bad idea to make it a chore. And it might be other stuff on your mind that is blocking you. You have a lot going on.

    Like

  2. I always read the previous bits of the story before I continue writing it. It gives me a chance to touch up the odd phrase here and there as I pass, and puts me back in the story headspace so I can keep going as though I’d never stopped.

    Like

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