…in which the writer thinks about writing more than the writer actually writes…
I do this all the time. Thinking about writing is probably more pleasurable to me than actual writing because it doesn’t involve any of the work. It’s like, when you’re planning a trip and the whole lead up to and planning of the trip gives you more satisfaction than the actual trip. Same thing, to me at least. I think about writing before I go to bed, while I’m in the car, on a walk, when distracting myself at work… Thinking about writing is my daydreaming.
When I think about writing, I’m not just thinking about sitting down with a pen and paper and how and when, but I’m thinking about characters and stories and traits and worlds. I create protagonists and villains, dystopian worlds, problems and actions, that all live in my head. I write whole novels in my head that will never see paper.
This isn’t a “problem” in the grand scheme of things; like I said, this is how I daydream, pass the time, let my mind wander. It keeps me from running actual real life problems over and over in my head. But it doesn’t get me anywhere closer to being a writer. It doesn’t give my stories life. My creative energy is wasted on a loop with no exit.
It’s easy enough to say, I’m going to sit down and write. It’s like going to the gym or eating healthier, where there is a lot of thinking about it, and not a lot of actual doing. I’ve written about this conundrum before. Sitting down and writing is not always fun, it’s work goddammit, work that I’m, for some reason, totally enamored with and work that I find myself not actually working on.
But I’ve been doing a lot of that thinking writing lately, so that means I need to re-examine my time and hunker down for some good writing. It reminds me of a Mary Oliver quotation that haunts me.
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative
work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to
it neither power nor time.”
Most days, I try and push this quotation to the back of my mind, forget about it, unread it, because who, with a 40 hour a week day job, and a new home to finish, has the time to push aside “real life” for the solitude of creative work? Most days, pushing the creative side away works. Most days, I can get by in this way. But then, a particular drive in the car gives me a particular thought and my mind spins and whirs again with story.
Is it ever really possible to forget our creative sides? It may not be fulfilled by an art per se, maybe you do get that fire filled by your day job or you do have an outlet for it, and maybe it’s possible that there is no creative yearning… But those who feel it, you know what I mean.
And so I find myself with only one solution: to write.
There is time, it is possible. It has to be.