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Why I Write (And Why You Should be Alarmed)

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.

Questions?  Comments?

23 thoughts on “Why I Write (And Why You Should be Alarmed)”

  1. You’ve done it again Paul! Thank you! I used to write poems when I was younger. The other day I looked at those poems & remembered why I stopped. I felt like all I wrote about was how my life was at the time which is very depressing but i also remembered writing was an escape for me. Today I struggle with how society will view me because of my condition. I do not want to be labeled just a depressed person. I believe I am very capable of still being the light regardless of any condition I’m in. I’d like to show the world you’re very much capable of getting through even with minor things you’re trying to shake. Today you reminded me to start making it fun. Do not just write when I’m down, write about when I feel alive as well. ✨❤️ thanks Paul & Jim! Oh I think you should be honest too, honesty is the only way people can grow no matter how harsh things may seem at that very moment some things need to be said.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to have encouraged you to make it fun again, Bri.

      Don’t ever underestimate the light you can bring to others. Depression is horrible, but it does not stop you from being an inspiration. Years ago, I went through the darkest years of my life, yet many people told me I inspired them during that period.

      Are you able to get medical attention for your depression? I’m concerned about you.

      I agree with you about honesty. Especially that you can’t grow without it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Paul I am glad you addressed this topic and you did it beautifully buddy. It’s important to enjoy what you do (though not possible every time 😛 ). Pressure to perform and bench marking is associated with adulthood and children are devoid of it all. To be able to inculcate these in your lifestyle is commendable and an achievement in it’s true sense.
    When I started 2 months ago, my biggest fear was ‘What’ and ‘How’. What to write and how to create/search the content! That pressure led me to the writers’ block quite often. Adding fuel to the fire was keeping up to the expectations once you start getting recognition and appreciation, which led to many sleepless nights and anxious days.
    But a little bit of introspecting brought me to the conclusion that it’s okay not to write some days, it’s even better to have a blank mind since it’s much better not to write than to scribble shit.
    The beauty of an art lies within freedom and innocence rather than driven by expectations and motives.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Agreed. We are so smitten by a sense of validation, many a times, that what we write may just be to tell the world and have them like what we write and wouldn’t that be being untrue with oneself unleashing the exploding pressure of having to perform rather enjoying what most of us here like doing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I must say, as a relatively new reader of your blog, I have enjoyed your posts very much! Your writing is unique. It’s raw. It’s funny. It’s honest. And, more than any of that, it seems to be coming from a deeper place than most.

    You must keep writing this way. I’m sure I speak for all of your audience when I say we can’t keep away. 🙂

    Like

  5. When I first started writing, it was to have fun and share that fun with others. Thanks for reminding me of that , Paul. That was back when I was in my mid teens, growing up with my five siblings and our parents in rural upstate New York. I wrote stories narrating our whacky adventures and simple pleasures. I remember that my dad was so impressed with a series of stories that I wrote that he paid a typist to have them typed.

    I have found that my writing usually dries up and inspiration flees when I try to be a ‘serious’ writer. You know, the kind that gets published. One summer I read poetry journals and tried to imitate the style of real, serious, published poems. And guess what happened? Nothing. I got nothing.

    So… I went back to writing stuff that flows from my heart, stuff that is fun, and stuff that will never be published, stuff that makes me happy.

    Like

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I agree with you, in that having fun should be an important factor in how we express ourselves. This isn’t just a lesson in the blogging community, but a life lesson. Thanks for sharing such imperative information in such a meticulous manner.

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  7. Stumbled on this at the right timing! I was thinking of quitting blogging for the same reasons you mentioned above! How conveying an honest self can get tricky! And most importantly losing sight of being here to have fun!
    Thank you for this. Now I might stay

    Like

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