With Cherise‘s help, I’m happy to report that for the last 11 days, I’ve kept to my word on publishing something each day.
When I challenged myself to post daily for an entire year, the only real goal was consistency for consistency’s sake. I wanted to see if the grass would be greener on the other side of one solid year of sowing. Why? Well, in every corner of the internet there seems to be someone jumping up and down, shouting about the benefits of showing up when you don’t feel like it and working through the times you lack inspiration. Train when you don’t want to. Create when you’d much rather nap. I can see how that way of thinking might benefit a bodybuilder, but does it apply to writers?
How exactly can someone write when they have nothing to say?
I went to a new spot for dinner with my mom and daughter, and on the way home I realized I had nothing prepared to post for tonight. I began bargaining with myself, “Just skip today, and post twice tomorrow.” But I know me and I know all about tomorrow — it’s that magical place where all of my best ideas go to die cruel deaths. Nay, I must write something today.
I thought maybe I’d list all the reasons I will never initiate a relationship online again (aka dating apps), or write something depressing on how I feel about the sudden uptick in media coverage of black men killed by law enforcement (again). I decided against both, because discussing either would require more of me than I have to give at this late hour.
I thought maybe I’d write about writer’s block itself. But what is it?
I googled the definition to see if it was something I could expand on, but I wasn’t impressed. To me, writer’s block is a lie. Often, it’s an unintentional lie, but what other word would describe the withholding of the truth? Sure, we could define writer’s block as the inability to think of what to write, but writer’s block is so much more than that. It could be trauma that interrupts creativity. Fatigue from staying up too late writing the night before. Depression. Insecurity. The feeling of being stuck, which is the heaviest of all feelings (in my opinion). Yet, some writers carelessly toss the saying around as an indifferent society shrugs its shoulders. It all feels lazy and disingenuous to me, this phrase. I decided against writing about writer’s block. I’ll always have something to say.
The truth is, I’m tired.
I was nervous about being perceived as less than. I was worried my tired mind would produce scattered thoughts that wouldn’t make any sense to anyone. The truth is, right before I sat down to write something, I just left my daughter’s room to check on her and felt a huge sense of accomplishment about being able to provide a safe roof over her head and a comfortable place for her to rest. I just wanted to go to sleep with that sweet thought in my mind, and not have to force words out of an empty well. I didn’t want to burden myself with trying to sound intelligent or intelligible. I don’t have writer’s block, I just didn’t want to write. I was mad at myself for even creating a challenge that no one asked for, and just wanted to go to sleep.
The truth is, I don’t like writing at all. It’s work. I’m sensitive about it. People like to assign rules to writing (as if it isn’t art), and like to diminish certain forms of it if it doesn’t come in a package with the right sized bow. All words on a page = writing to me, but some would disagree.
The truth is, writing feels like the last 100m of a 400m race — you’re completely exhausted and all gracefulness is gone, and you know you’re making these unflattering faces that everyone is probably laughing at. But you can’t stop. People are standing rigid on the sidelines, holding their breath hoping you don’t stop. You’ve been here before. You know if you just keep going, you’ll be really glad you didn’t quit.
Then you cross the finish line, and it no longer matters how you got there.
The truth is, I hate writing, but I love having written. That’s what I will remind myself on nights like tonight. I’m learning how to authentically articulate what it is that I’m experiencing, instead of hiding behind empty phrases.
I don’t have writer’s block, I just didn’t want to write. But I’m really glad I did.
And now, I’ll rest. Goodnight.