Listen, y’all..

I’m down, but I’m not out.

Obviously I crapped out, but that’s my fault due to poor planning and the fact I had something on my plate nearly every single night. Which really should not be an excuse because you’ll never have a clear schedule. Heck, I somehow do LESS when my schedule is clear for a few days. I’m writing this in a “thinking out loud” sort of way, not an apology. I don’t like posting every day anyway because I don’t want people to get mad at me. It’s more that I wish I kept my commitment, but it is what it is, I’m not crying about it. I just wish I could finish things I start! But like I said, I’m not out.

Now, I will share wisdom about coming up with something new every day. Listen up and listen hard. YOU DO NOT DO YOUR BEST WORK UNDER PRESSURE. I know you think that you write your best work under pressure because you did it in college the night before a paper was due, and you used this as an excuse to procrastinate, but I’m here to tell you it wasn’t your best work. You just got it done. That’s all.

My next point about writing: sometimes what I’m doing is an experiment and isn’t apparent. It’s like acting out a scenario with stuffed animals or demonstrating a car accident with toy cars. They’re just stand-ins for the real thing. The characters might be going through some silly motions but it might actually mean something entirely different. It could be a situation, or a technical thing like point of view or a dialogue method. They’re just practicing movements before they’ve even gotten to a stage.

I also have/had major writer’s block for fiction. Dark night of the soul type stuff. Forcing yourself to write every single day is a good practice. Don’t wait for the muse. I don’t think the muse really cares about us at all, really. I think it might even be malevolent. If it wasn’t, why it would wait around and watch you suffer? And honestly, you come up with stuff that’s just as good (often better) when you’re not feeling it as when the muse is supposedly inspiring you. I’d rather come up with regularly-scheduled garbage all by myself then wait around for someone to give me ideas at two o’clock in the morning that turn out to suck in the light of day. It’s kinda sick, isn’t it, that this muse renders you breathless thinking you struck gold, only to sit back and laugh as it watches you try and sell what you think is your one bankable idea? “Oh, I only write when the muse strikes,” says the person who writes twice a year. So I say to hell with the muse.

Better to make yourself happy. Why do something if it makes you miserable? I find that there is a sort of pleasant misery in which you’re struggling to solve a puzzle and can’t get it off your mind. But if you’re really dreading it, and you’re never satisfied, not in the sense that you could do better but that you’re left cold and ashamed, then try something else. Or just stop caring! It works for me. I would never counsel someone to give up and walk away. But try it from a different angle. I don’t recommend breaks because you might never go back. Life is too short not to enjoy what we’re doing. That’s what our jobs are for.

Speaking of which–

58 thoughts on “Listen, y’all..

  1. “Heck, I somehow do LESS when my schedule is clear for a few days. ” That’s the paradox. When I have to “make time” I somehow squeeze it in and get more done. When my time is “valuable” doing what I want takes on greater meaning somehow.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree with this when it comes to long-form stuff. Not that I have ever written any (for this reason lol), but I can see that long-form writing would be like doing a crossword. Sometimes you’ve got to plug away and put the hours in, and won’t always be fun.

    I love love love being able to put stuff down and throw it away though, not being backed into a corner, not have any responsibilities…thus sticking to short-form and minimalism :D. So yeah, I’m actively filtering the ideas I come up with and don’t even bother unless I have something with a consistent, vivid message, and throwing away those impulsive ones which sounded good at 2am :). Of course I used to just write all of them on my blog regardless, which continually makes me shudder :|.

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    1. I can’t throw stuff out! Or only very rarely, if it’s something so cringey and bad that it has to go lest someone find it after I die. Yes, believe it or not, I have written cringier things than I have posted on this blog! I save every damn notebook and every document on my computer is squirreled into one folder or another. I’m not sure what I’m scared of.

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  3. Your post reminds me of Bukowski’s headstone. “Don’t try.”

    I think that while writing requires effort and some modicum of discipline, there has to be the middle path, or not trying involved. That’s not to say ‘just wait for inspiration’, but more of ‘work at your own pace and push it if you want’.

    Still, I’m glad you went through it, so that I could read this post!

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  4. This is exactly why I prefer to write daily, rather then wait for the inspiration to strike me. Besides, I also think it is sort of an excuse, silently telling someone that you do wish to be called a writer, but actually don’t write anything.

    As for the quality? Honestly, it comes and goes. The important thing is to stuck with it.

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    1. I think you’re right on all these points. And quality truly comes and goes. Sometimes I really like something I did, and worry that that’s the last time. But usually it comes around again.


  5. Food for thought; thanks. And when you brought up the stuffed animals and toy cars, now I’m wondering if what “we” “writers” are doing is playing. I can barely remember but I think that sometimes playing with the other little kids on my cul-de-sac occasionally involved first outlining a scenario and then acting it out. That sounds an awful lot like what we did last month with our scenes.
    Also I wanted to say that most of the time music destroys my ability to do anything but listen to the music. I guess we’re all different.

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    1. If you like playing around, you should try Method Writing. You pretend to be a character and try to bait people into conversations so you can test out some lines. Not that I would ever done anything that weird, of course.

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    1. “Thought is the enemy of flow.” Vinnie Colaiuta (on playing with Jeff Beck) One of these days you’ll wake up and stop writing “mindfully”. The way it looks from out here is I can see you lacing up the gloves like you’re getting in the ring with Ali, your computer monitor covered in post it notes of “the path” and you’re off to do battle with “writing.” That’s like pulling out the bench and sitting down to do battle with the piano. Or a circular saw. Feel the beauty of the process, not the task.

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  6. My customary response to this take on “muse” would be “you’re missing it” or the more profanity loaded SMH. The “muse” or the “cosmic radio” is not some capricious entity as considered here. It’s on all the time. There’s an unpublished but easily obtainable toll-free number. If there’s a problem, it’s on this end. Consider a modular synthesizer (how I learned). Or a lamp if you prefer. If the connection is dirty, if the jack or socket is rusty you get interference and flickering bulbs. That simple. “Try” and “writer’s block” are both control issue bullshit. There are hundreds of examples from creatives in every facet of the “arts.” But there is only one truth. Art happens when technique disappears and that happens when you give it over. Or as Catholics say, Give it to God. I am no gifted person, I “work” at what I do. But I don’t work very hard because it’s all there. I edit, that’s it.
    I get what you’re saying about trying on stylistic things, that’s on our end and I do it all the time. But content? “Muse”? “Cosmic Radio”. “The Play”? I say Get. The. Fuck. Out. Of. Your. Own. Way. To those of you who would create. Let the “mistakes” happen, because more than likely they aren’t mistakes at all but pathways. Remember, you can’t play sitting on the bench. If I can write on my phone while getting tires put on my car, anybody can.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can buy into the radio metaphor. Turning it on and tuning it in is within our own control. Whether the radio is any good is another question. Why is it that people complain about blocks so often? Fear or laziness, I guess. Maybe they’re the same thing. For me, the interference is always from worrying about what other people think.

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          1. If you’re a person who is honest with themselves, it’s tough to think other people are critical of you. The answer, I’ve learned, kind of wanders around and is in different places on different days. My solution is/was to keep practicing being myself. I’m slowly getting used to it, and have slowly stopped giving a shit. Every now and then I check in to make sure I haven’t gone off the deep end. Sometimes I ask myself, what’ll it all mean a hundred years from now?

            Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for sharing your insights. Writing is an interesting undertaking. Everyone is a little different, a little unique, and often fascinating. I find myself preferring to read other people than writing. I just hang it out there and hope I actually wrote something legible. If it turns out good, I’m ecstatic.

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      1. I think getting to know the author makes reading their work more interesting. You begin to see their creative process and the person behind it all.

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          1. LOL! If you are creepy then I like it. I think you should be allowed to follow your own path to glory and as long as bodies aren’t starting to crowd your garden out back, you are doing great.

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              1. You are right about that! I’ve been teleworking for two years and now we are going back to work and I don’t remember how to act with public decorum. I may need to go away to retraining camp. We have face to face meetings and everybody is picking their nose, burping, farting, scratching, and watching Netflix on their phones like they were on a teleconference with the camera turned off. It’s shameful.

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  8. Retable Hetty and laughable. …
    “I don’t think the muse really cares about us at all, really. I think it might even be malevolent. If it wasn’t, why it would wait around and watch you suffer? And honestly, you come up with stuff that’s just as good (often better) when you’re not feeling it as when the muse is supposedly inspiring you.”

    Liked by 1 person

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