SUMMARY: An approach to overcoming writer’s block.
(About a 4 minute read)
Based on the scant evidence available to me, I can conjecture that most long term readers of Café Philos are lured to read my insufferable opinions for much the same reason folks find it difficult to look away from a train wreck in progress.
That statement might imply to some folks that I take pride in the being the blogging world’s equivalent of a tragic, slow motion collision. Actually, I do not. But I’m a realist about these things.
I have long known that my honest opinions tend to horrify sensible folks. So the choice for me has always been whether to be honest and risk my reader’s lawsuits attempting to reclaim their medical fees for the treatment of their PTSD, or to be dishonest and live up to the expectations of my two ex-wives. Since I have a contrarian streak in me, I have chosen the former and decided to be honest about my views. Take that, ex-wives!
Having said that, it might shock some readers that — in perfect contrast to the suffering I unwillingly inflict — I write primarily to have fun. And — quite naturally — I have a couple of exceedingly insufferable opinions why it is a good thing to write primary to have fun.
For one thing, I believe my primary reason for writing might provide a cure for writer’s block. At least it seems to do that much for me.
I did not come about that insight easily. It took me a good 40 years, give or take a few. You see, growing up, my main source of self-expression was not writing, but painting and drawing. I was fairly good at them in the sense I won awards and got heaps of praise.
Too much praise, as it turned out. By high school, I was nearly creatively parallelized by the fear that my current or next work would not live up to the hefty standards that everyone seemed to expect from me. Put differently, I was scared that the praise would turn into disappointment if I didn’t always perform as well as I sometimes could.
By the time I graduated, I had largely quit art, and I didn’t pick it up again until around 2000, when I started drawing again. Painting had to wait another 11 or so years before I started doing it again. But soon enough after I started painting, I encountered a crisis of sorts.
I started sliding back into my old habit of anticipating the approval or disapproval my works might encounter. So one day, I sat myself down in my green armchair and had a very serious silent conversation with myself lasting a couple hours, during which I concluded I was losing sight of the obvious.
As a young kid, art had come instinctively and effortlessly. All the motivation I needed to do it was to have fun. I didn’t need to try to be good at it, I didn’t need to try to live up to any standards for it — all I needed was to have fun. So wasn’t it obvious? I should return to that. As much as I could, I told myself, I will make my primary goal to have fun.
As it turns out, that has worked for me so well that, when I decided to take my blog out of hiatus this time around, I decided that fun would also be my primary goal in writing.
I have never before been so free of writer’s block as I have been since making that decision.
That’s not to say I lack all goals but to have fun. I haven’t become that childlike yet. In fact, I have at least two or three other goals that I’m aware of. One of those was expressed beautifully by Jim in a post on his blog today which can be found here. But having fun is by far my primary goal these days.
By the way, Jim’s thesis is to me a fascinating one. He believes writing can be a means to “claim our world”, to “bring clarity and passion to the act of living.” And he supports his notion in a thoroughly interesting way. His post is a good read.
To some extent, Jim’s goal in writing has been one of my goals too. Not my primary goal, but an important one nonetheless. I believe “claiming our world” through writing is all the more important today because so many people and parties seem to want to define us and our narratives or world for us — usually in order to gain one thing or another for themselves. Writing can be a means of defying their propaganda, I suspect.