A lot can happen in a year or so, yet as a writer, I feel as if I keep running into the same roadblock time and time again. There’s an endless outpouring of thoughts and creativity, but they seem to die on my tongue before I have chance to say them, let alone write them down. Another crisis of confidence, one might assume, but is there more to it?
I have never seemed to grasp the concept of multitasking, juggling more than one thing at a time. It’s almost as if I have tunnel vision sometimes, I seem to focus on one task at a time and let it consume me; till everything else fades to the background.
The only way I can seem to describe it, is that I am in a boat in the middle of the ocean. But my boat is so full that it’s starting to sink under the weight; so in order to lighten the load, I have to abandon some things, throw them to the sea before the weight consumes me.
So what’s in the boat you may ask? The usual suspects that occupy a person’s time, or the foundations of an adult, if you will. These being: work, family, friends, pets, errands, interests/hobbies to simplify it into key areas of a person’s life, my life.
It’s comes to reason then that it’s a hard choice of what to remove from the boat. Do I remove errands or interests first? Shall I risk not picking up some milk after work, but then what will happen to the morning tea, the evening tea and the ‘just before bed’ tea? Or should I simply stop with tea altogether to save time for errands?
It becomes this confusing mess of what is worth keeping in the boat and what is not. Endless scenarios and weighing of options. When essentially, they all have a rightful, and worthy, spot on that boat with me.
The only factor I had yet to consider was balance, I did not consider the weight I was assigning each area in my life. I would read more than I wrote, listen to music more than I did laundry, cleaned more than I did shop, saw friends more than family and so on.
What I should have considered was my time and how to utilise it. Did I really need to devote whole weekends to being out all the time? Or whole weekdays sat listlessly in front of a book that I was too tired to focus on? Or stare too much at my phone screen when waiting at coffee shops because it seemed like the normal thing to do?
I had to realise that I should stop procrastinating in some areas of my life and stop going overboard in other areas. Yes, I could spend my work breaks reading a book, or listening to music for while, but rather than repeating myself in the evenings, maybe I should get up and grab the milk for a tea and call a friend or sit and catch up with family about their day.
I needed to pull myself out of this unhealthy monotonous routine and try to balance everything, including some well needed breaks to stop me sinking for an entirely new reason.
So what does this have to do with writing? It means that rather than just have a few notes scrawled on old receipts and bus tickets, or endless thoughts churning around in my mind, I devote some time to write them down. Before they’re gone, even if it’s simply an hour or so a week.
Yet there is a further roadblock to overcome, having not written in little over a year, I need to find my voice again. For me, it both was and was not like riding a bike. There is that familiarity with writing, that I can manage to string a few sentences together. But it’s as if I am on a rusty bike, the wheels may be turning but it seems like I have to push harder to reap the same rewards as I’m use to having when completing a piece.
It seems that rather than constructing a piece I am happy with, I cannot seem to construct more than a beginning of a piece, a simple few words that should get the ball rolling; yet seem to be stuck there, waiting for the other side of the comma to fill in the blanks.
If I try to force myself to write beyond the first few lines, like trying to write through a block like most writers do, I seem to get lost in the mist. I lose my train of thought, and I start to question where it is that this piece is going. What’s its point? What’s the message or the story?
There’s a flicker of doubt, and it seems that the spark of creativity that comes with a thought is quickly extinguished. I get frustrated and naturally walk away, with the promise that I will come back to finish it, at some point. Although, when that point will be, is hazy and unclear. I give up before I’ve even got started.
Of course there is the flip-side of this, I do manage to complete a piece, albeit slightly smaller than I’ve previously written; yet nonetheless, I am happy and satisfied with. Until, it comes to sharing this piece, I hover over the post button and I never manage to click ‘publish’.
It’s a simple crisis of confidence, I try to assure myself. Everyone goes through phases where their creativity is doubted, surely? But that thought does little to soothe my anxieties. I still worry whether, I’ve missed the boat on this one. Whether, I should sit this one out and try again next time. Give up entirely, or start again from scratch with the added assurances that I am still growing as a writer, and as a person, and that everyone makes mistakes. Maybe this blog, this piece, these words, are my mistakes. My stumbles before I really get into my stride.
As such, I had all but abandoned this place, my words and writing in general. Not just for fear that I’d say the wrong thing, or that I wouldn’t quite get around to finishing and saying everything that I wanted to; or even down to that simple boat analogy, where I guessed the weight of my words wrong, counted them as tiny grains when maybe they were, are, more. The cat had well and truly had a grip of my tongue and I simply refused to fight it on this occasion.
Things do change over the course of a year or so though, I was sitting and speaking with a friend in a cinema once, before our film was on. We started talking about what we were like when growing up and all the things we did, and enjoyed doing. She enjoyed cross stitch and gaming, I had a flair for books and writing.
The difference being, she had pursued her loves of cross stitch and games, and her boat did not sink. She juggled her work, family, friends, love, pets, errands and interests. For that I envied her a little.
I had simply chosen my love of books over writing because reading was easier than trying to ride a rusty bike. Yet I still missed that bike ride and getting so lost that I don’t know my destination until I’m there.
Maybe there is no sinking boat, where I am forced to pick one safe choice to help me float. Rather a boat that’s sinking under the weight on an anchor of doubt, and worry, instead.
After talking to my friend, and chewing on my thoughts for the entire film, I decided that it couldn’t hurt to try again; maybe it’s through stumbling back on my feet again, read Bambi on ice there, that I’ll land up right where I’m supposed to be.
Happy, albeit it confused, at my desk creating again.