Twenty-six days into my writing resolution, and I’m just gonna go ahead and whine and get it over with. This promise to write every day…it’s HARD!! I feel like my mind is never quiet; there are always words and thoughts and images rolling around. Even in the dead of night, when my brain is supposed to be resting, it is occupied by vivid technicolor dreams that include complicated plots, elaborate settings, provocative characters engaged in meaningful dialogue, and analytical, introspective observations. Yet I’ve had several days (ahem, today is one) when I sit down in front of the computer to create a blog entry, and there is ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. THERE. Even if my day has been an endless stream of orderly, organized thoughts flowing across the blank page of my mind, when it comes time to actually make the keystrokes that will fill the blank screen of the computer monitor, all those thoughts have vanished like water over a dam.
Part of the block comes from the blank screen itself–and the medium doesn’t matter, because the same thing used to happen in the good old days when I had a pencil and fresh piece of college-rulled notebook paper on the desk in front of me. The page offers no guidance; should I write fiction today, or try a memoir-like entry from my personal history, or spout my opinion on a current event? Where do I start? But, honestly, I think I am an even bigger part of the block. My own fears and insecurities completely inhibit the flow of words some days. Will this piece be any good when it’s done? If I follow this weird fictional storyline, will someone call the men in the little white coats…or the police? Will I find the perfect words to convey the mood of this story? Will anyone be offended if I recount this event from my past? If I give my opinion on this subject, will it negatively impact people’s impressions of me? The performance anxiety can be crippling, to the point where I sometimes think I should have bought a nice leather-bound journal in which to implement my writing resolution, rather than publicly posting each day’s attempts at word wizardry.
I’m reading A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement by Barbara Abercrombie. In addition to offering personal words of advice gleaned from her own experiences as a writer, each day Abercrombie cites wise words from other literary figures meant to inspire those of us who are just starting to seriously delve into the craft. Day 5’s quote by author Ralph Keyes reassures me that what I’m feeling is not uncommon. “Anxiety is not only an inevitable part of the writing process but a necessary part. If you’re not scared, you’re not writing.” Knowing anxiety is not uncommon doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy to overcome. Being a perfectionist people-pleaser is an integral part of my being, so I expect it will continue to stand in my way as use this blog to conduct mini-forays into different genres of writing. But my hope is that when it counts, that same anxiety will also drive me to deliver the best possible finished product.