“One forges one’s style on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines.”
― Émile Zola
I have often heard writers and amateur writers and non-writers advising other budding writers to ‘Write, right now!’
I find that annoying. Every time someone tells me if you wanted to write, you would have written by now, that all there is to writing is to write diligently everyday, I frown. If the demand means to stay in touch with writing, I meet that anyway.
I end up writing everyday. While conversing with friends (long discussions on chat, I mean), writing my diary, writing phone notes of ideas, writing rough drafts, writing letters and emails etc. Some days I don’t want to write. I am irritated to think that I am thinking the same thing over and over again. There’s no new thought. That’s when I feel trapped in my body and even my life. I reach out to people to escape that rut. Read their work, talk to them about their lives, read books, listen to music.. anything that’s outside of me.
That doesn’t mean I mean, daydream about being some kind of artist, and hope that someday you just might spontaneously create great work. One has to collect their many hours of practicing proficiency and enduring sincerity. That is important. You develop your style because of that. You create a rhythm which is a good thing. But you also create a writing pattern. Again, something that I think one must try to break free from.
Whenever I have attempted to write a blog post recently, I conclude that it is being didactic or is an angry rant. My friends tell me I always wrote just that. (I still have a hard time accepting it). I end up deleting the post because I am sick of it myself. I am bored again of my own comfortable writing. But then, I haven’t written for so long, it feels like I need a writing resolution or a writing slot in my schedule or more writing prompts. I hate the idea but I am tempted; I make plans, I break them. I am motivated and soon, dejected.
I have decided that “free association” is not “writing.” That’s what you do when you write for therapy sake. That’s how I write my diaries, or ward off the writer’s block. True writing is coming up with something more layered than that. Conscious writing is true writing, for me. That’s what should be the goal- Creation. So I have been unhappy with all that I have written yet. All I do is practice that style of poetry, or this style of plot. I don’t have an idea in my head that is driving the writing, which makes me feel empty.
I wonder if I am already setting myself up for defeat when I say I can’t write with the help of writing prompts. Prompts must inspire, not pressure. Again, prompts help starting off on ideas that originate external to you. So I am not against prompts; the idea tempts me to try it. However, I have read such great works in response to a specific prompt, I can’t take them casually. You compete when you write in response to a prompt.
At the end of the day, I know that one just has to write. I am the one who urges people to write down their ideas or feelings even, to articulate what they’re thinking, to experiment with styles, to read a lot (it is part of writing!)
What is problematic for me is the demand of “do it right now”. I hate pseudo-urgency. Life is not an emergency situation. I do not understand how self-imposed deadlines work. If I don’t care, I don’t do it. If I care, I don’t need deadlines. But then there’s this one twist: If I don’t care but somebody else cares, I’ll do it.
Based on that principle, I asked some of my friends to give me writing topics to get me going.. I needed someone else to care because I had been in a very apathetic state for a long time. This doesn’t work in the long run, because you begin to feel smothered and then decide not to care.
This post is also a didactic rant. Half my mind wants to delete it. I ask myself- Is that all I have to give to the world? Granny talk?
“If the novels are still being read in 50 years, no one is ever going to say: ‘What’s great about that sixth book is that he met his deadline!’ It will be about how the whole thing stands up.”
― George R.R. Martin