Here There Be Draggin’
I spend a lot of time thinking about writing. Much more time thinking about it than actually doing it. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been writing poetry consistently for a while, posting poems twice a week. I tweet a lot, I post little rants and raves on Facebook, but fiction? Not so much with the fiction writing. Just thinking about the fiction writing.
My head is full of stories. Well, story-ish things, odds and ends that could be put together into stories. I make lots of notes about them, but I don’t start writing actual stories as much as I wish I did, and I finish them even less. I don’t have much problem putting words together into poems, but putting sentences together into stories is much more daunting. There are some brain issue reasons for this, and I’m working on ways I can either work around the issues or work with them and take advantage of how my brain works (as opposed to “how it’s supposed to work and how books on the craft of writing tend to portray how the craft is done”). But there’s also the psychological issues of “What if I start writing a story and I get bored with it and don’t finish it and then I’ve wasted my time on something and I feel like a failure for not finishing what I start?” and “What if I write a story but it’s not the Best Most Ultimate Josh Story Ever, it’s just some story that anyone could have written?” and “I work a full-time job and have dishes and laundry to do and there are so many good TV shows and movies to watch, I just can’t seem to make time for writing OH NO WHAT DO I DO AM I NOT REALLY A WRITER?!?”
I know those concerns aren’t real concerns, they’re excuses for not doing the work. But knowing the demons are banishable doesn’t mean banishing them is as easy as flopping onto the sofa to watch Parks and Recreation for the umpteenth time (not that there’s anything wrong with that–Parks and Rec is one of the bestest shows ever, even aliens from distant galaxies agree on that). I decided this spring I would do Camp NaNoWriMo, because the write-a-novel-in-a-month romp is the best thing I’ve found so far to make me actually put words on paper in the form of sentences that become paragraphs that become a story. Sometimes I even finish!
We’re six days into the month. I’ve written every day so far, as little as 600 words in a day and as many as 2,200 words. (Some days are better than others, you know?) And the fun thing is, writing every day has reminded me of something, something important that I nevertheless forget when I go through my long stretches of not writing. The important something is this: I like writing. I like the process of putting words on a page, words that become sentences that become paragraphs that become stories. I like writing dialogue. I like making up plots on the fly. I like describing cosmic weirdness.
Meditation is the same way. It’s really easy to come up with excuses for not meditating (“I’m too tired, I’ll just fall asleep!” “I’m running late for work, I don’t have time!” “Oh, the next episode of Parks and Rec is one of my favorites!”), and the more I put it off, the easier it is to continue to not do it. But when I make myself sit down and do it, I really enjoy meditating. I’m not self-aware enough to say if meditating really helps me be more mentally balanced throughout the day, but I like how I feel when I do it, and when I do it, I want to do it more.
Inertia is a sly and seductive monster. It makes it easy to build bad habits and makes it harder to build good habits. But when those habits are things I truly enjoy doing, fighting inertia and its minions, the voices of self-doubt, are so worth it.
I just need to remember that. Which in my case is easier said than done. But that’s what writing posts like this is for.