On The Desire Not To Write

I’m having such trouble getting started on this book.  Granted, some of that is understandable – it’s been a very stressful week-ish, and I’ve not had much time to write.  What time I did have was spent being tired or stressed, and neither of these are conducive to writing, certainly not to me starting to write.

But.

But I am a writer.  Writing is what I do.  When I’m not doing it, especially when I’m not doing it when I have a story that is ready to go, that is a sign of something wrong.

I think everyone approaches the desire not to write in different ways, and to explain what I mean, I’m going to use an analogy.  I’m going to talk about our reactions to pain, especially when we’re exercising and feeling it.

Some people push through anyhow, soldiering on.  “No pain, no gain” and they don’t let anything get in their way.  I admire them while also not quite understanding them.  I mean, I get that it is supposed to hurt some, but you can’t just ignore pain in my book.  You have to pay attention to it, and then decide what to do with it.

There are lots of reasons you might be hurting.  You might be out of shape, and so you need to push yourself.  You might be doing the exercise wrong, and so you need to adjust what you’re doing so you don’t hurt yourself.  You also might have hurt yourself, at least some, and pulled a muscle or stretched a tendon, and the pain is your body’s way of saying NO.

I think it’s the same with the desire not to write.

Sometimes, it’s just you being lazy, or scared, or what have you.  It’s something that should be pushed aside and worked through, because if you listen to that side of your brain, you’ll never get anything written.  You’ll spend a year meaning to write and only get a handful of pages out of it.

But that’s not always the case.  Sometimes, especially for writers who write more from their subconscious (I realize that some people write very intentionally, though it’s not something I understand how to do myself – I write on instinct a lot of the time), it’s a sign that something is wrong.  The men in the basement, that put together your ideas and get things ready for you, are throwing up a flag that says “Hey!  Something ain’t right boss.  Better work this shit out.”

Maybe your characterization of someone is off, or the direction you thought your plot was going in is mistaken.  Maybe there is a hidden realization that you have to discover before you can proceed properly, or something else that your character wants to do.  Until you figure out what it is, you’re going to feel that dragging weight when you sit down on the keyboard.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s not what is happening to me this time (it’s the nerves thing), but it has happened in the past.  It’s why I don’t advise categorically ignoring that feeling, that aversion to writing.  Sometimes (probably a lot of the time), it is just laziness or trepidation, but sometimes it’s your undermind’s way of telling you that something isn’t right.  It’s that pain from doing the exercise wrong, and it’s a sign that you’re going to fuck up your knee if you continue.

Metaphorically speaking.

Of course, mine this time (I am nearly certain) is the garden variety trepidation at beginning, which means I should just dive in and get that over with.  Rip off the bandaid all at once, in other words, but we’ll see.  I’m not very confident it will happen.

In the meantime, if you’re finding yourself overwhelmed with the desire not to write, give yourself a few minutes to see if you can figure out why you don’t want to write.  It just might help to uncover a problem you hadn’t even realized yet.

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