To recap: I mean to start writing longer pieces again, having not done so for quite a while. I figure a good first step would be to look at the reasons/whiny excuses why I haven’t been doing any writing, and see what I can do about them. (I foresee the phrase “get the fuck over it” appearing regularly.) Let’s see:
Work sucks the will to write
Spellcheck can eat a bag of dicks.
Yeah, I’m a Tech Writer by trade, so there’s an amount of “if I see one more semicolon today” to my reluctance to make with the paragraphs in my own time. In theory, writing creatively for fun should be different enough from writing factually for a paycheck for me to be able to separate them in my mind, but the mechanical process of just sitting down and banging out text is similar enough sometimes that my brain recoils from it. Just a mindset thing, I suppose – proper motivation is all I need. *pictures Caitlin Moran sticking printouts of my posts to her fridge door and sticking gold stars on them* *worries slightly about picturing a woman one year older than me as my proud mother*
I don’t care about opinions
It seems like most longer, non-fiction writing, as in a regular column, involves a lot of opinionating. (Real word? Spellcheck says no, I say spellcheck can eat a bag of dicks.) And I’ve spent quite a bit of time convincing myself that I’m not interested in opinions. I don’t much care what other people think, and therefore assume that other people don’t care what I think. Guess I’ll just have to change to assuming that you’re all hanging on my every word?
(Another problem here is two degrees worth of Philosophy has taught me to equivocate like my life depends on it, which makes the holding of firm opinions tricky to begin with.)
There’s too much writing out there that’s better than anything I could ever write
Look at this:
Think about that, in a world where time only flows downstream and the past is an unscalable glacier wall. We will hit the bottom of the spiral long before we ever solve the problem of rescuing love or speaking unsaid goodbyes.
From Warren Ellis’ column here. How can I even look at a keyboard when fingers other than mine have already tapped out beauty like that? It’d be like jumping on stage at a concert, grabbing a microphone and trying to sing along with the band. Or indeed, jumping on stage with your favourite comedian and telling your own jokes (I also worry that I’m not funny as I used to be). Only of course it wouldn’t be like that – millions of people write online, some better than others. I’ve written stuff that I’m, I think, rightly proud of in the past – simply doing more of the same seems a much better goal.
I write in punchlines
Always do, always have. I used to come up with a good line, then build a post around it; Twitter meant that I didn’t need to bother with the second step. Time to get back on that particular horse – I’m sure it’ll come back to me.
When it becomes a chore I stop
This has been what’s killed all of my previous writing ventures – as soon as thinking up things to write starts to feel like a chore, like I’m having to make myself do it, I stop. I’m supposed to be doing this for myself, for my own enjoyment, so if I’m not enjoying it, why do it? I would place money on this project ending for the same reason, but I guess that’s no reason not to start in the first place.
The inspiration thing
“Where do you get your ideas?” – the most annoying question any writer can be asked. Largely because, I’m pretty sure, the honest answer is “fucked if I know”. When I was doing Monkey Fluids, ideas used to come in batches – I’d sit down and come up with half a dozen or so at once, then have nothing for a week or two. I couldn’t make the ideas come, I’d just have to sit there and receive them from wherever good ideas are transmitted. Oh, I received them, all right – I received them hard. Anyway.
Not only can you not control where ideas come from, you can’t control when they come to you – it’s another common writers’ complaint that ideas always come when you’re in bed, in the shower, in transit – basically any time when you can’t actually note them down. It gets so that I actively stop myself from thinking about new ideas when they come at an inopportune moment: “No, you’re in the shower – if you follow this train of thought, you’ll just end up forgetting everything. Just make a mental note of the main point and hope that you’ll be able to follow on from it later.” Sometimes works; often doesn’t.
Aaaand the other thing is that, of course, just having a good idea is only the start – 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration and all that. The 90% can become a bit of a grind, especially when a whole bunch of ideas come at once. When I decided to start writing here, I came up with a decent clump of things to write about on the first day, and now I sit here, looking at Evernote, realising that I will at some stage need to actually chisel prose out of the slabs of granite that my hastily scribbled notes represent. And frankly, that just seems like work (see “When it becomes a chore I stop”). Perhaps the best way around this is to focus on the end goal, which is obviously to make you all love me and fall about yourselves with praise for my wit and erudition, such is the throbbing power of my text. Any minute now.
I have two small children and no free time and oh God help me I’m so tired
You’re typing now, aren’t you? Shut it.