Some days the words just flow onto the page. Other times, you sit there and want to beat the crap out of that blinking cursor. Why is it that you can have so many awesome ideas in your head and then when you try to get them out onto paper, they just come out sounding, so – what’s the word I’m looking for? Bad? Crappy? Awful? Cringe-worthy?? Making you pissed off that you even set the alarm an hour earlier, thinking you could get up and actually get something done?
On those days, do you turn to mindless activities like surfing the web, scrolling through your facebook or instagram feed, or other such time wasters? (Maybe I should just delete the Candy Crush app on my phone now before it gets any worse. Yes, I know I’m a few years late to that game. Never said I was fashionable.)
On those days, I’m torn between wanting to read something like Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, and my latest fiction obsession, The Girl on the Train. Anne’s book appears to speak directly to me – she gets it, the frustrations, the self-doubt, the condemnation of one’s own mind. And she even turns those thoughts into humor.
My fiction obsession – I read it for the entertainment, but also to study the writer’s technique. And I wonder, did they know what direction their story was going in when they started writing it? Or did they just let the words flow onto the page as they flitted in and out of their mind, hoping against hope that at one point, it all might make some coherent sense? Because that’s what my writing is like right now. A bunch of jumbled thoughts. Some thoughts are of fictional content, others just musings of a distracted mind …. hey, look, SQUIRREL!??
One of my favorite authors is John Connolly. When I first started reading his work, many years ago, I believe it was because he usually sets his stories in the northeast. Maine, in particular. A state located so close to Massachusetts but so different in every way. John’s writing is quite dark but also spell-binding. I don’t want to read about all the horrible things that can happen to the characters in his books, but I also can’t tear myself away sometimes. His Charlie Parker novels have spanned the years, and I wonder, “did he know all of this was going to happen to Charlie when he first started out? Did he storyboard or mindmap his ideas? HOW does he do it?”
For those of you out there who like to write, what helps you on the days where you’re just not feeling it? Where everything you write down makes you want to just give up and remember to not quit your day job? Do you work with writing prompts? Pull out your journal and let the words flow via your pen and not the computer?
A good friend of mine said to me that writing can be like running. Some days you just have really shitty runs but you persevere and push through them because you know that, not long from now, you’ll have that one run where you feel euphoric like that’s what it is all about, where you could just keep running and running and running. (No, not like Forrest Gump.) This friend should know – she trained for a marathon with me, and God, did I feel sorry for her having to put up with me on many of those days. There were some days that if I had been her, I would have said “Screw you!” and just run on without me.
But she stuck with me. As I hope many of you out there will stick with me. Thanks for reading my drivel today. And enjoy the earlier than normal morning sunshine, if you’re already up, like me.
As always, thanks for reading. Please share this post if you think there’s someone out there who can commiserate or benefit from reading it. And please drop me a line if you have a suggestion or comment!