Weekend Reads is a weekly discussion on a variety of topics. At the end of the post, I’ll include what I plan to read on the weekend.
This weekend’s topic:
I couldn’t think of a question for this weekend’s Weekend Reads post, so I went with the first thought that popped in my mind and that’s to write about my trials with writing.
I like to write. But I find the task daunting. It’s lonely and strenuous, both mentally and physically, and because of that, I often avoid doing it. I’ll put it off and tell myself I’ll store my thoughts until a more opportune time to jot them down. And of course I’ll remember what the thoughts were. They are my thoughts after all and in my head. But often that opportune moment doesn’t come and I forget the thoughts I had, which makes me feel guilty and berate myself for being lazy. But writing is so damn hard.
I took my first creative writing class in high school and loved it. It was the best class ever. I slept through every session except the ones where we had to read our work to each other. For some reason, I found it hard to write in class. Fortunately, my teacher went with it. I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid, but the stories I started in this class made me believe that writing stories is something I could do. Also, my teacher was very encouraging in helping me develop my skills. But it was then that I learned how lonely writing could be. When I weighed my choices — hang out with my crazy friends or write, — writing seemed very unappealing. There would be no one around but me and my mind and my ideas and as great as that sounds, the crazy shenanigans that I knew my friends would get up to were way more exciting. So I didn’t write and eventually I stopped.
Now, in the years during and after college, I’ve learned how strenuous writing can be. It’s weird but in my high-school days, it was much easier to get my ideas out. They would just flow. For one of the stories I wrote for my creative writing class, the protagonist just sort of appeared in a dream/daydream (can’t recall which) I had in class. She was staring at me. So I stared back and wrote about what I saw. For my art class, the abstract designs I made just flowed through my fingers and I just kept drawing and drawing and drawing and coloring until I’d completed a huge tangled mess of designs that won first place in the art show my high school had. But these days, I have to fight to get my ideas out.
It’s like a wrestling match, but one where I often get pummeled due to being easily distracted. These days when I write, I have to tug and pull and drag an idea out. If it’s a big idea, something I’m excited about or something that really interests me, then I’ll physically react to the writing process. I get really hot and start sweating as if I’m doing some sort of manual labor. I find that so fascinating. When I’m done, I’ll feel a little spent but exhilarated and usually I run around my house and find someone to tell them what I wrote (they’re usually uninterested, usually it’s mom, my family thinks I’m weird).
I wonder what caused this change and now that I’m reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and have read several articles on creativity and inspiration, I believe that it’s because I often, almost always, ignore ideas when I get them. I don’t jot them down or engage with them in any way. I usually just say to myself “Oh that sounds good” and make a mental note of it that I immediately forget. I’m also not as loose and free as I once was. I realized that I’m closed, cautious, and tend to overthink things these days and sometimes that makes it hard to vibe with an idea. I believe that’s why I don’t draw much anymore either. That and lack of time. When I draw, I do better when my mind kicks into automatic and I don’t make many conscious decisions about what I’m doing. But it’s hard to tell my mind to shut up and stop analyzing.
However, on a positive note, though I don’t keep a schedule, I get very excited whenever I show up to write, especially if it’s in the morning. That might seem like a little thing but it’s hugely encouraging to me because it’s not that easy excitement that quickly sprout, like whenever I get a new book. This excitement I feel deep inside and it makes me think of this sensation I used to have as a kid when I was very happy: I’d feel like my inside was laughing. As if my spirit was laughing.
Here’s what I’m reading this weekend:
I’m still reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I hope to complete it this weekend. I think I’m about halfway through. I like it so far. It’s not engrossing, but she’s very earnest and encouraging and makes me feel great about what I want to do and be doing. Also, I LOOVVEE this cover. Love it!