Me, awkwardly smiling: “uh-huh.”
I have done next to no writing since graduating two years ago. In a way, I expected this. This laziness is my answer to having to write stories and personal essays weekly, times however many writing classes I was taking that semester (and that’s on top of writing an entire book, too). Without deadlines, I knew I wouldn’t create as much as I would with deadlines. So I came to a halt. A well-deserved halt, but a halt nonetheless.
To keep my practice up in a more informal way (while I tried to determine what my more formal direction might look like), I decided I’d put effort into blogging on a semi-regular basis. That, too, came to a halt, this time because of deadlines: at the start of 2015, after a solid few months post-graduation of hit-and-miss writing, I decided I’d write one blog post a day for an entire year, and within three months I burned myself out and quit. I quit a year ago tomorrow, come to think of it.
And I haven’t written a thing since.
This lack of output is troubling, considering I do a lot of talking about writing and about being a writer. In fact, I lead with it. What’s the first line on my online dating profiles? Something about having written a book or about my aspiration to become a full-time editor or author. I shouldn’t really be surprised when, on first dates, something that’s always asked is, “so, you’re a writer?” And I talk about everything I’ve done or everything I want to do, rather than what I’m doing (which is nothing). Or when I run into people I’ve known previously, and they ask me, “how’s the writing going?” because they might have known me at my most productive, I tense up and laugh awkwardly and make some joke about how all great writers struggle to work. It’s either I’m a liar, or a caricature.
I could chalk it all up to writer’s block but I know better than that. The biggest hurdle when it comes to writing is yourself, and that it’s easy to just do once you make yourself do it. Despite having loved writing I’ve always felt at a disadvantage because I’m too calculated a person to just do because everything I do has to be polished from the start. So when I make that personal breakthrough and actually get myself writing, it’s a big deal, and I know I can do it, so there’s no reason why I’m not.
I’ve thought that, maybe, it has to do with my inability to separate a hobby from a career. I’ve never been very career minded, nor have I ever attempted to get what I want–I just kinda sit around and wait for it to drop in my lap, and I’ve been pretty lucky up until now, I’d say. Today, I’m not working in my field, but I keep my dream of being a writer ahead of me at all times, despite not working toward getting there for myself. But the trouble arises when, I think, I consider the practice of writing as something that needs to amount to something; as if to say, why get started on a new project if nobody’s ever going to read it? Why practice my writing in more informal ways if it’ll never be published?
The obvious answer is to blog, but I’ve had a solid year without it, always making excuses like “I don’t have a direction” or “I want to learn how to design websites first, so that I can build myself something really nice to look at” (that one is pretty ridiculous). And that brings us to here, now: me, writing, which is a triumph, but I’m writing about writing, and I’m writing about how I can’t write. It’s directionless which is something you should have come to expect from this by now. And if you’re new, sorry.
This inability to write doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t had the itch to write, or that I haven’t had any ideas. I’ve had both. I have ideas all the time, but I sell myself short and tell myself they’re stupid before I can get them into words. And there are times where all I want to do is spend my day writing, but my need to sleep or do nothing overrides that (not healthy, I know). I guess what it comes down to is moments like today, where I get that floating thought of “hey, maybe you should write” once more, and I shame myself until I actually do it. Come to think of it, I’m surprised I’m still going. Things you don’t see: several false starts, distraction by Tinder.
Does this mark a return to blogging, at the very least? I hope so. I hope that this baby step will be followed by another until my foot is at least in the door. And I know the only person who’s going to take it from there is me.