And the penny drops
I realize there is absolutely nothing unique about me starting a blog, writing a bit on a blog, casting about for the central theme or premise of my blog–a message or tone to hold things together–failing at that and then failing at regularly writing on the blog. The tubes of the internet are littered with abandoned blogs, faded podcasts, and stranded cats. I feel guilty about it, though.
You started this writing project and now you’re not sticking to it.
That is the sound of the little voice in my head chastising me for not keeping up with the blog.
This little voice sounds a great deal like the other little voice in my head, which, upon further consideration, isn’t little at all. It’s my academic superego voice telling me: You haven’t finished that article draft yet. You need to get working on that. If you were only more dedicated to your career, you’d publish more frequently.
And suddenly this morning it occurred to me that (a) these are the same voice. This voice assumes that my diligence and dedication are called upon each time I sit down to write; that writing is a chore; and that this chore is something I might acquire a type of facility in only after honing it over the equivalent (at least) of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours. Realization (b), occurring simultaneously, was that it doesn’t have to be like this. Writing pulls at me. yet when I sit down to do it, I feel confronted with a wall of shoulds, rules, considerations, fears, and doubts about the what, the how, and even the why of writing–especially for a blog. I know well and it’s been asserted elsewhere repeatedly that informal writing begets more formal writing–or that more of one likely feeds into more of the other. I know that free writing as a practice can yield interesting results for the writer and for his/her self-awareness and creative abilities. Yet I’ve always approached writing as a field of activity to which I owe some debt of suffering and time. I’ve internalized Hemmingway’s bon mot along the lines of “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” which means that, on those days when I don’t particularly feel like opening a vein, or that my veins have nothing much to offer up, I’d better avoid the keyboard and the damage I might inflict on the written word if I sat at it.
But–and here’s where the shock to my system occurred–what if I write because it’s fun, because I find it enjoyable? What if I pick silly things to put out there and just don’t worry so damn much? What if I give myself permission to play around with writing, to look inside or around me and allow myself to reflect and comment with no worries about audience or tone or perfection? Consistency be damned–just have fun.