Do I love writing?
Of course I do. I’ve been writing, sometimes more effortlessly than other times, for almost 30 years.
Does writing love me?
I think it does. I think it loves me like a parent loves their child. I think writing wants what’s best for me, and wants me to be happy. I think it’s disappointed in me when I don’t do as much as I can or should, or when I haven’t been trying my best. I certainly don’t think writing hates me.
I’ve never gone for the Tormented Artist thing myself. I tried writing drunk a couple of times, and all I got was illegible gibberish and a hangover. I’ve never wanted to do drugs or hurt myself. But, unlike Gilbert, I do feel like I write better, or perhaps more, when I’m unhappy. Not that I make myself unhappy in order to write, but that the times I’m unhappy I feel I’m looking for the escape writing provides.
I’ve written about this before, I know. I always did the most writing after a breakup, when I was sad and alone and desperately wanting a different life. When I was happy – Prince Charming, dream “job” – I couldn’t write for shit. (For the record, I’m still happy – I’ve just finally forced myself into craft, into the job of writing, rather than just writing when the stories came to me.)
I love the idea of combinatory play – “…the act of opening up one mental channel by dabbling in another….It quiets your ego and your fears by lowering the stakes (p. 253).” I’ve always heard occupying your hands will help loosen your mind. Knitting seems to be a popular pastime with a lot of writers I’ve read. I like cross stitch, myself, since I never learned to knit, but the latest coloring fad has also been great for me. It doesn’t matter what you do, just that you do something else.
On a forum I’m part of, a young woman was recently asking for advice. She had made it 16 chapters into writing her first book and was stuck. Many people told her to take a break – advice she adamantly refused to take. But that’s the advice you see time and again: take a walk , go to a museum, get away from the problem long enough for the solution to come to you. “You might think it’s procrastination, but – with the right intention – it isn’t, it’s motion. And any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion (p. 254).”
Just like with Part IV, this part didn’t resonate much with me. Maybe I need to reread it when I actually finish something and nothing happens – either it’s crap or it’s a failure. Maybe then this section will help. Right now I don’t need this sort of motivation/inspiration. But one day, I probably will.
This, though. This is going up on my bulletin board:
“You are worthy, dear one, regardless of the outcome. You will keep making your work, regardless of the outcome. You will keep sharing your work, regardless of the outcome. You were born to create, regardless of the outcome. You will never lose trust in the creative process, even when you don’t understand the outcome (p. 258-259).”
We’ll be taking a couple of months off, then I’ll be back in January to discuss a new Book on Writing. Stay tuned to find out which book!