Overcoming Doubts and Doldrums

Writing a paper

I’ve been feeling under the weather the last few days – finally succumbing to whatever flu virus is going around – and so I haven’t felt up to writing, let alone creating any new content.  Of course I feel tremendous guilt about this.  I committed to writing in this blog regularly – hopefully every day, but certainly during the “work week” – and now my resolve is crumbling.

But synchronicity has come to save the day – just like it always does – in the form of The Right to Write and Bird By Bird.  Both of the entires I read today were about showing up to the page even when you don’t feel like it.  In the Right to Write, Julie Cameron explains that “being in the mood to write, like being in the mood to make love, is a luxury that isn’t necessary in a long term relationship.”  Nice analogy and right on the button.  She goes on to compare how the first wan kisses of an less than arduous embrace can ultimately ignite passion, just like “that first sentence, however tentative and awkward, can lead to a desire to go just a little further.”

And how to do you stoke that ardor?  Well, the first step is really just to show up to the page – which is the entire philosophy behind the Daily Creative Writer; a sort of “if you write it….it will come.”  In this case the “it” is not the baseball diamond in the middle of a corn field, but the story you’ve been hunting for… the plot twist you didn’t know you needed…the poem that captures the moment…the scene that is finally set.  And even though it might take a leap of faith to get there, the truth is that the act of putting it down on paper does make it happen.

Inspiration is a bit like passion.  Scratch that, it basically is passion, just in a different form.  And who doesn’t like to get visited by unexpected passion?  We’ve all experienced that moment when the idea crystallizes and we get it all down (unlike this week’s earlier entry – where that crafty notion escapes our pen).  But Cameron makes the case for daily writing as a way to make the endeavor feel more approachable.  Rather than dampening the excitement, daily writing can deepen the connection you have to your creativity.  It’s the difference between a first crush and a true love.

Because we are all in love with writing – or we wouldn’t even be here.  But loving something doesn’t necessarily make things easier.  Sometimes the merest action can be fraught with tension and expectation.  And so we hate showing up to the page when we’re not primed for genius.  Anne Lamott says, show up anyway, because the experience can take you such unexpected places.  Lamott encourages her readers to revisit childhood memories and write down whatever pops into your head: what family parties were like, how you spent the holidays, where you went on vacations.  Take it all in: the smells, the colors, the unspoken promises, the disappointments.  And while this is not always a fun topic to excavate, and can lead you to so many new directions – who knows what great stories lie just beneath the surface of your everyday life?

The final idea I want to leave you with is that writing may not always be easy or fun – in fact, sometimes it may be “as pleasurable as bathing a cat” as Lamott says – but it’s always, always worth it.

2 thoughts on “Overcoming Doubts and Doldrums

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