“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” ~ Maya Angelou
Sometimes it feels like my journal is a confessional. “Dear Diary, it has been three weeks since I last made an entry…”
Creative recovery is hard. I struggle every day against what has become the Habit of Not Writing. Even fulfilling the commitment to my journal, which should be the easiest writing of all because no one is ever going to see it, can become a battle. I’ll be doing great for a while, writing every night (or nearly) and maybe not enjoying it, but at least getting it done. Showing up. Putting words on paper, even if they are boring words. And then, for no (easily) discernible reason, I just stop, and three weeks go by without a drop of ink spilt.
The battles take a different shape every time. Most often, it’s just easier to do something else. I win that battle about half the time, even if it’s only by virtue of the fact that I get to work a half an hour before I’m supposed to clock in – early in the morning, sitting in the parking lot, scrawling awkward sentences is still writing. A few words is better than none.
Other days, the battle is much more insidious. On those days, I become a merciless judge of my work, scorning the low output, despairing of the quality. On the worst of those days, I begin to wonder if writing is something I even want to do anymore. I mean, there are lots of other ways to be creative, right? I have a lot of interests; art journaling, photography, crochet…maybe one of these will satisfy my creative needs. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to convince myself that I was going to become an Instagram Influencer and I know, what does that even mean? Except it means I “have to” spend time doing something other than writing.
Fortunately, I realized what I was doing, and stopped that. I’m still trying to post on Instagram daily, but I’m not putting the hours trying to prove I’m a “good user” with excessive liking, commenting and following. I’m using it instead as a way to try to connect with the visions in my head, which is probably never going to turn me into a brand champion. But it is an important piece of my creative recovery. A picture and a short caption are easier to manage than 1,000 words a day, but they still tap that well of imagination that I’ve been so cut off from the past few years.
I’ll be honest, I still don’t know for certain that writing is the thing I want to be doing. Fantasy, yes. But putting those fantasies into words? I’m still waiting for that joy to come back…
“[When] the thoughts rise heavily and pass gummous through my pen… I never stand conferring with pen and ink one moment; for if a pinch of snuff or a stride or two across the room will not do the business for me — … I take a razor at once; and have tried the edge of it upon the palm of my hand, without further ceremony, except that of first lathering my beard, I shave it off, taking care that if I do leave hair, that it not be a grey one: this done, I change my shirt — put on a better coat — send for my last wig — put my topaz ring upon my finger; and in a word, dress myself from one end to the other of me, after my best fashion.” ~ Laurence Sterne