THE FEAR OF NOT BEING ABLE TO CREATE:
It's not unusual for me to wake up in the morning and think, not without a little horror,
'What the hell am I going to write about today? I have no ideas. I haven't done anything!'
It doesn't generally last long, this fear of not being able to create a damned thing. But it's there, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Of course, this fear of not being able to create is not only confined to writing. It can apply to any job, any sport, or whatever else it is that you need to, or want to do well at, But as creating the flow of words so they appear intelligible to others, as well as hopefully being enjoyable to read, is what I am doing at the moment, this fear of not being able to write anything good is understandably my fear. The fear of fear.
Today this nasty feeling only lasted a couple of minutes (thank God! I'm not exactly sure why I'm thanking something I'm unsure I believe in, but it's an expression I, and millions of others, have grown up with so it stays even though I think it looks ridiculous). I was standing outside on my front balcony. It was, it still is, a bitterly cold Hobart morning, and there I was nursing a steaming hot cup of strong coffee - no, not hangover people. You thought I was going to say 'nursing a hangover', didn't you? Whatever do you think of me? Thankfully that is not the case. I feel fine.
'Aha, fear of non-creativity', I thought - a 'light-bulb' moment, 'Then that is what I'll write about!'
Fear instantly evaporated. All of a sudden I felt lighter. Unfortunately I still had sleep in my eyes, the coffee hadn't begun to kick in yet, and my hands were starting to freeze solid. I returned to the warmth of my office, and switched on my laptop. And here I am.
Fortunately I felt pretty pleased with myself - I still do. I told my wife about my latest brainwave. She didn't seem that impressed. I can't say I blame her as she, like me, was still half asleep and is not as much of a morning person as I am. Am I a morning person? Apparently I wake up talking which must be highly annoying to those others (probably the wife, although she's far too nice to say so) who are unfortunate enough to be around me when I surface from my dreaming and snoring fest. Tough luck. I am who I am. Even if I wanted to change, I doubt that I could. People don't change - I believe that theory to be a myth.
What is writers' block? I'm not exactly sure. I'm fully aware that some days I can write and write, for whatever reason, and on other days I don't seem to feel inspired to scribble anything at all, so I don't force it anymore like I did when I first began to sit down to write on a daily basis. Months ago I got some great advice from a friend. It was simple as good advice, or a good idea, generally is.
"If you can't write, read. Hopefully some of it will stick and come out later in your own writing."
Brilliant, and thank you to the friend who wisely passed on this valuable lesson. I will never forget it.
There is another lesson I learned recently which I'll never forget either. This too was simple. I read it in one of the numerous e-mail newsletters I've signed up to - all in the hope of learning as much from people who have far more experience than me, and are therefore hopefully much better writers. It was this.
"Shitty is pretty."
I first read the title and thought, as you might be doing right now,
'what does that mean?'
I then proceeded to read the e-mail which took me two minutes max. It was basically saying that writers' block is bullshit. Just write, write, and write. Stop trying to be perfect because you're not. Sometimes shitty writing is pretty. An interesting theory - a theory which I've taken on board with great enthusiasm. It was a timely e-mail too as I had started to bog myself down in attempting to get every sentence perfect which looking back is ridiculous. I was also trying to edit my writing at the very same time I was writing the words. This was, of course, (and is) sheer madness.
When you can write, you simple write. It doesn't matter if half of it, three quarters even, is awful and unusable. You can always go back and edit it later - you were always going to do it anyway, at least once, and probably several times. Surely, amongst the rubble, there is something glistening, something shining like gold or silver. Bronze will even do on occasion. It's better than nothing, isn't it? Even if worse comes to worse and you feel the need to scrap every last word, at least you didn't sit in front of a blank screen thinking nothing much and creating absolutely bugger all. It might be frustrating as hell to look back on what you wrote and think,
'What utter garbage!' DELETE...
But it's a learning curb. Remember, you learn way more from losing than you ever do from winning. Yeah, I know, winning feels great, and if you lose all the time you actually learn fuck all, but sometimes you gotta' lose in order to learn.
What has what I've been writing about above have to do with the fear of writing? Possibly bugger all, and maybe everything. You decide. But it just goes to prove that if you just sit down, and write, words will come, and if you're lucky they will flow.
I'm giving up the fear of not being able to write. As of this moment I am promising myself that it will never happen again. I shall see tomorrow, shan't I?