Fade To Grey

I have a lot of admiration, and more than a little envy, for bloggers who are able to write a post every day, every other day, or even every week. I’ve successfully managed to make my life so busy at this particular point in time, that I can’t seem to write a post more than about once a fortnight, sometimes longer. I love the creative exercise of writing, and I spend a lot of time in the back of my mind while doing other things, imagining that if I had more time, I’d be writing.

But would I?

Sometimes I think I’m fooling myself. When I’m really flat out, juggling my two part-time jobs in non-profit arts organisations (that frequently require more time put into them than one full time job would), driving my daughter to appointments and extra-curricular activities, cooking, cleaning, spending time on weekends catching up on work, or making long overdue trips to see family, etc, I tell myself if only. If only I wasn’t doing this, I’d be sitting at my laptop writing.

But one evening recently I gave myself the night off from checking and replying to emails for the little theatre company I work for, and thought I’d write a post. I got out my laptop, sat myself in front of it, and recalled a list of possible topics that I had developed in the back of my mind. Suddenly, now that I had allowed myself time to write, it was apparent that all my ideas were only half-formed and had no substance. Just like the haze floating on the stage at the start of a theatre show, when I tried to pin them down, they faded away, revealing that there was no substance to them in the first place. I felt a definite lack of inspiration and couldn’t even muster up the energy to try.

I suppose this is called “Writer’s Block”, although I feel a bit of a fraud using that term, since I never refer to myself as a Writer, with a capital W, as if it’s my main occupation. Occasionally I’ll admit to the fact that I write – I allow myself to describe the activity, to claim writing as a verb that I do, but I don’t use the noun, or claim that it’s something that I am. Much as I don’t claim the title of Singer, although I do admit to singing, in the shower, in the kitchen, and in the car.

Thinking further about Writer’s Block though, it occurs to me that it’s possible to suffer from Athlete’s Foot without being an athlete, so I’ll accept that Writer’s Block is a term for a condition that anyone, even a lame, one-post-every-few-weeks blogger can suffer from. If only a tube of Canesten(TM) could swiftly clear it up!

If only it had the power to clear up the symptoms of writer's block.

Time someone invented a cream to free the brain from the symptoms of writer’s block. Directions: Before bedtime, drink one large glass of red wine, and rub an entire tube of cream directly onto the skull for maximum un-blocking action.

Perhaps right now, I need to take some time to work on my ideas. That is a frustrating realisation, when it’s taken me 3 weeks just to find time to write – I don’t want to have to delay publishing a post even longer, I want instant results!

As a blogger, I’m aware there’s a need to post on my blog as often as possible – that’s one of the ways to keep your followers engaged, right? My followers, even the imaginary ones, must be tired of the Test Pattern replacing real programs. I can see them all – stretched on the couch, yawning, scratching themselves and clicking the remote control to see what else is on.

Blogging is great for developing skills in writing about 800 – 1000 words pretty spontaneously, tidying them up a bit, and publishing – and hopefully producing a comprehensible and interesting piece of writing on most occasions. I’m not suggesting that I’ve produced any earth-shatteringly good writing using this method. I don’t expect the New York Times will text me this afternoon to see if I’m available to write a weekly column. But I like to think my – mostly spontaneous – posts, on which I’ve usually spent 2-3 hours at the most, have been adequate. But, as a blogger, the impetus to post as frequently as possible sometimes conflicts with the desire to change pace a little bit, and write something that is considered and researched, rather than just spontaneously writing whatever comes into my head and pressing the Publish button.

While I mull over what to write about next, and perhaps even try to plan how I’ll write it this time, I am undertaking at least one course of action that is recommended by most writers, and that is – reading. When I can snatch some time – usually at breakfast – I’ve been reading posts by other bloggers, articles and essays that I discover when someone tweets a link, and, not least, I’ve been reading real, actual books.

In fact I think it is all the reading I’ve been doing, across such a variety of media and topics, that is to blame for why my head was full of vaguely formed, half-thought-out ideas. Reading is definitely what stimulates a lot of my ideas, but perhaps, like Virginia Woolf, I should carefully plan my reading too.

Of course, back in the first half of the 20th century it was pretty easy for Woolf to plan her daily reading. It’s much harder in 2013, when my Twitter feed is full of links to articles and essays on topics ranging from music to feminism to Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers.

After all, there are only so many links I can “favourite” to come back to later, before my list of favourites is so long that it’s just another never-ending feed of ideas that only serves to make me feel that I don’t have time to concentrate on any one idea properly.

Maybe I will try to select from the plethora of possible topics that bombard my mind every day and focus on just one of them. Hopefully when I next post, some of those half-formed ideas will have been slapped into shape.

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8 Comments

  1. AHHH!! This post is fantastic! I don’t know how to say this without sounding cliche, but I feel exactly the same way!! My wordpress dashboard is filled with at least 20, unpublished half ideas. I have more than a little envy for bloggers who are able to post regularly…and post good stuff at that.

    If the New York Times did text you this afternoon and ask you to start writing a column, I would definitely read the New York Times more often (or at all)!

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    • Thank you! Nice to hear from you again…I’ve thought of you occasionally & wondered how you are going after the terribly sad post you wrote about your brother’s baby. Life can definitely take its toll and sometimes drain our energy, focus, or even will, to write a post. Maybe, like me, you should try & pick 1 draft idea you like, & spend some time reading or researching it?!

      Thanks for your endorsement, too! I hope the New York Times take note that they could pick up at least one new (if possibly intermittent) reader, by appointing me as a columnist. (Would it be bad to mention in the same breath that I never read it either – unless someone tweets a link!!)

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  2. I keep scraps of paper with me where i jot down my blog ideas and then i write off of emotion. Keeps me posting frequently. But i know everyone has different techniques. I like your athlete foot’s comparison.

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  3. Ok you caught my attention!!! I’ll be watching for your every once in a while postings!

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  4. This made me smile. I’ve often thought my minds is more like a Tasmanian Devil. Much to fast to commit to paper. As fast as an idea appears. poof, It’s gone. Seriously thinking of wearing blinders!!. This post really hit home with many other bloggers.

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    • I have not developed the habit of making a note when I have an idea. These days, with the ease of writing a note on my iPhone, or indeed even using voice-recording function to dictate an idea, there is no excuse. But I think it’s also to do with state of mind, & sometimes I could look at a long list of my own ideas & still have no inspiration to write. Thanks for reading!

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