I've wasted a lot of time "trying" to start writing regularly in this blog. I'll have an idea for a post and sit down with a halo of the most shining intentions and everything perfectly in place. Table cleaned off (because visual clutter creates mental clutter!). Computer charged up or plugged in. Coffee freshly brewed in the little earthenware mug my friend made me and Mason jar full of hot lemon water to my right, a short reach away. To my left, my stack of notebooks and little blue pen case. Trance music or Brain.fm playing through my headphones, just loud enough to drown out the household noises. It's all about manipulating your environment, right? Of course right. Sit down, plug in, set hands on keyboard.
And then nothing.
I'll be honest, I feel like stopping here. I'm already annoyed and ashamed at myself, angry that I've allowed myself to be this ineffectual in the first place and even more so that I'm going through this same struggle in the very moment that I'm trying to define it.
I put so much energy into shaping my environment to suggest useful or preferred behaviors—buying only fresh meat and vegetables so I don't have the option to eat anything else; hanging a pull-up bar in the doorway I walk through most often; cutting down my wardrobe and spending months wearing only black, blue, or white tee shirts with jeans in order to save precious time in the mornings. The aim is to make the constituent habits of a satisfying and useful life mindlessly easy to follow. The trouble starts once I set my sights on any habit for which mindlessness is deleterious—that is, producing any creative content whatsoever.
I'm lucky enough to know several people with bottomless wells of words within them, apparently unsullied (as mine seems to have been) by the fracking that is mindless cell phone and internet use. One of them gave me this advice:
Frankly, I focus on writing in my own voice. Saying something that I think people will find valuable, and doing it in a way that sounds like me. Beyond that, it's all details, and those are things that can be whittled and chiseled and sanded later on. It's a huge relief to know that all you have to do is open the floodgates and pour words on the page, though — no need to be anything more than a really pure version of yourself. When that's kept in mind, writing each day is easy enough. It's also — in my opinion — the best way to keep getting better.
That's the ultimate aim, I suppose—to be a source of valuable thought for other people to find and take to heart. That's also the part of the process that inevitably stops me before I begin. It's frightening to remember that this is the internet and therefore technically a public space, if a relatively disconnected one, and there's a chance that people will read these fanciful and florid little scribblings and judge me by them.
This is usually the part where I kill my chickens before they hatch; close the book; close the door; close the computer; do nothing at all with the latent power to make fire with nothing but a stick, a knife, and my own hands; keep my mouth clenched tight shut; and scream only ever in thought.*
This should be the part where I say fuck all this that and the other, it's just words and they all need to be said somewhere and somehow and let them all out in a roiling torrent of lurid, florid, occasionally flaccid adjectives and dumb little stories that don't have much bearing at all on the life lessons I'm trying to illustrate and all the joy and rage and love and pain and aching truth that have been sparking up again and I'm worried now that since I'm doing such a bang-up job of squelching the expression of all these old-new emotions that they are beginning to fade back and all the gutwrenching soulsearching that's been racking my body and mind these past few months will have been useless.
Fuck all this that and the other.
Here begins Project Thing-A-Day.
*Apologies, dear Fiction.