Writers Write… Except When They Don’t

by Quenby Olson

This post was originally going to be about trying to write and summon up creativity while sick.

But then I kept not writing that post. I baked muffins. I vacuumed. I added several rows of crochet to a bedspread.

I did everything except sit down and write that blog post. Because I didn’t want to open up a notebook, or a file on the computer, and look at some blank thing staring back at me.

And so I ate those muffins, and I sorted laundry, and I went grocery shopping. And I continued on doing every other possible thing I could think of to avoid doing what I didn’t want to do. Which was… Write.

Absurd, isn’t it? All the time, I’m telling people that I really just want more time to write, that if I only had more space in which to write, more notebooks, fancier pens, some amazing app or program that would make organizing my files like magic thus enabling my creativity to soar on the wings of eagles…

But then, when I actually have a moment to focus on something — a blog post, a short story, a list of edits that have been hanging over my head like a certain sword belonging to a guy named Damocles — I always have something else that needs to be done first.

Like cleaning the cat’s litterbox. Seriously, people. I voluntarily chose to scoop up cat poop rather than write this post in a timely manner.

So, what’s wrong with me? Why would I rather spend my free moments with animal feces than fluttering my fingers over a keyboard and spitting some words onto a computer screen?

There have been countless other posts about this, about things like procrastination and about how it might tie into a fear of failure, or laziness, or ten thousand other things I could sit and read about rather than, you know, sitting and working on one of my own stories.

For me, I think it’s about fearing how others perceive me, or at least how they’ll perceive my writing. Which is a part of me, so then… Yes, okay. It’s all about me and my feelings.

Because here’s the standard Order of Events for Writing Something That Other People Will Read:

1) Write Something

2) Let Other People Read It

3) Endure Their Judgy Comments and Critiques and Realize That You’re Just No Good So Why Don’t You Crawl Into a Hole with a Box of Wine and Your Own Salty, Salty Tears.

Of course, looking back at the list, the easiest way to avoid #3 is to just… not do #1. As long as I don’t write anything, then no one has to read it, and I can continue to tell myself that everything I may potentially write at some vague point in the future will be the most awesomest thing in the history of awesome things… as long as I don’t ever actually write it.

So, to be a writer, I’ve found, you need to be incredibly brave. Not only do you need to sit down and put your own thoughts and feelings onto paper, like scooping out a part of your most private self and displaying it for everyone to see, but you have to sit there and wait for people to give their opinions on those thoughts and feelings. Essentially, you sit there waiting to hear what people think about YOU.

Which, well… No one wants to do that. I mean, who would purposely put themselves out there and risk equal parts praise and criticism? You’d have to be crazy to do something like that.

Or, you know, maybe just be a writer.


4 comments on “Writers Write… Except When They Don’t

  1. Oh man, this is so timely as I’m reading blogs to procrastinate from writing!! You totally hit the nail on the head – it’s fear. Fear of not being good enough & not being creative & of writers block. It does lead to a lot of chores getting done though! And muffins made 🙂

  2. Salty, salty tears! Yes! I think it’s easier to blog than to write. After a while you get used to the responses on a blog, it’s instant. But with the writing, there’s no audience until after you’re done, there’s no cheating, you know? You can’t get a feel for what’s “killin’ it” and what isn’t and *that* is scary, and also cat poop.

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