It’s day 13 of my 30 Day Writing Challenge, and I’ve started to notice a pattern.
When I sit down at my computer, to write the next article for my blog – before I start writing – I have a look at my Facebook timeline, in case there are some interesting articles or motivational messages that I can share. Then I see what comments my friends have made on my timeline.
I tell myself that this isn’t procrastination – it’s research. I’m reading articles, and I’m keeping up-to-date with what my friends around the world are doing. I even have short real-time conversations with some of my friends, which is always a pleasure.
But it isn’t writing.
After I’ve visited my friends on Facebook, I check my e-mail, to see if anything interesting has come in – which, again, is more research and connecting with friends.
But it isn’t writing.
I’ve heard of writers who, before they can get down to the act of writing, feel the need to sharpen every pencil they own. I don’t own any pencils (well, perhaps one), so I don’t have that distraction. Nor do I have the cleaning fetish that afflicts some people – although I wish I did!
One of the friends I shared a flat with, as a student, had a cleaning fetish. Whenever she had an essay to write, she would clean the oven or wash the kitchen floor. Needless to say, we had a very clean kitchen.
What is the purpose of these distractions and delays? In my case, it doesn’t seem like writer’s block – because, often, I’ve been going through an idea for an article in my head, beforehand. All I have to do is commit it to the page. So what stops me from doing that?
Perhaps it’s the belief that, although it sounds like a great idea when it’s going through my head – and I can quite often visualise myself giving a talk on the topic to an eager audience – it might not look so good once it’s written down. It might lose something in translation.
I’ve been writing and publishing articles for around 5 years now, so you’d think I would have got past that particular block. I’ve even been complimented on my writing style – that it’s conversational and informal, which makes it easy to read. So you’d think I would take heart from that.
The fact of the matter is, though, that when I speak, I tend to ramble. Ideas and meaning come to me as I’m talking, rather than being clear to me from the outset. And the same happens when I’m writing. So what started off as an article about one subject often morphs into something completely different!
Committing thoughts to a page
Perhaps none of that matters, though. Perhaps the simple fact of committing thoughts to a page is enough. Perhaps – like an artist who applies paint to a canvas without knowing what the outcome will be – I should simply write, and see what comes out of it.
Perhaps, like art and like life, writing doesn’t necessarily have to be about something. It’s enough for it to simply be.
Please feel free to leave a comment below, on Facebook or on Twitter (#30DWC). You can also follow my progress on Facebook and Twitter #30DWC.