I Took an Involuntary Break from Writing and Honestly it Just got Weird
At the start of the summer I decided I was going to do something I’d been trying to do my whole life: writing. I’d written before; I’m an English literature graduate so churning out words isn’t new to me. The difference between my university career and my post-school writing career is I wasn’t being given direction — here, I was writing without purpose. Or there was a purpose, it just wasn’t someone else’s purpose.
I write about a number of things. Sometimes I write about friendships, love, relationships, sex, whatever makes me want to whip out my keyboard and start the day. Sometimes I’ve just got an idea or the feeling of an idea and that can start me off for something brilliant or not so brilliant. I just need to get the words out of my head.
A couple of weeks ago that all stopped
I came home to see my laptop dead. It turns out my particular laptop had an issue with its battery that caused it to bulge with use. I couldn’t even fix it — the dangers of using it were basically like having a small bomb in my office. It’s great, amazing, love it.
All my hopes and dreams seemed to shatter in that one moment. I’d been doing so well and now I was staring at my hopes and dreams hoping they wouldn’t blow up in my face.
I was a bit preoccupied with the toxic fire hazard before I was worried about not being able to achieve my goal. Priorities, for once. Don’t count me out to be one of those people tweeting about the fire before leaving the building.
After I got on the phone with service I got to deal with the longest conversation about how they had screwed me over a couple of months ago. Turns out an issue I had presented to them before was a prelude to this issue now and that if it had been resolved correctly the first time I wouldn’t be where I was now. My warranty also expired last month.
Now I was panicking
I didn’t have the money for a new laptop and I’d been saving up for a desktop but hadn’t met my mark. If I bought a proper laptop I’d be out the money for a desktop. As they say, “life’s full of tough choices.”
And then the rainbow came. Clouds parted and I could see hope in my future — the representative escalated the issue and I was approved for a free exchange.
I’d have to wait for them to send me stuff so I could send my laptop in. They said it’d be two to four days. It wasn’t two to four days. I’d called again after the expected time and found out there would be a delay. I hadn’t written anything in that time.
I’m a creature of habit
I didn’t think I was but I totally am. I knew I didn’t want to stop writing so I pulled out my smart phone. It’s not the latest model — it doesn’t even wireless charge but it does what it’s supposed to do and that’s enough for me.
Too bad it doesn’t help me write.
I never realized how fast my brain works. I’m not a genius or anything and I’m not implying I am. I’m saying my brain works faster than I type and my memory works slower than my brain. Once I started typing on my phone I realized I’d forgotten what I wanted to say because it took me so long to type my thoughts into words.
It was like trying to play catch up but my thoughts were a rushing river and my hands were the salmon trying to overcome the waterfall.
I tried bullet points but then I couldn’t cohesively put my voice to work. I tend to write in an offhand kind of way, or I at least try to. Because of my subject matter my writing has always tried to replicate the voice in my head — it’s the closest I can get to making my ideas come out in real time.
Instead, I felt like T-800; I was forcing my words like Arnold forced that smile.
I tried to switch to writing. In my university career I’d written down all my random thoughts and then pulled them together into essays and articles accordingly. Jokes on me, I write even slower than I type.
So here’s what I did instead
I couldn’t rectify the issue. I started and deleted countless stories and articles but nothing got published. My last article was my last attempt and I’m not saying I hated it but I hated it.
I hated the process and I hate that it took me so much longer to write than any other article had. I pushed it out because I needed to publish something — I felt like I was failing myself for making excuses about my writing.
In that moment it didn’t feel like writing — it just felt wrong. I’m not a highly acclaimed writer. I love my followers but I’m just starting to get to know them. I just started writing and honestly I don’t think I owe my writing to anyone because there aren’t many people who know I exist.
So why was I being so weird about it?
I took a break. I was stressing myself out for no reason. I think this lasted about three days. I’d forgotten that even though I had just started writing I genuinely enjoyed writing. I think a lot and I like to connect with others. I never know how people will react but these are thoughts I don’t say out loud. They just run around in my head until I can put them out in a tangible way.
I wanted to be able to write again but I was struggling to do so. Circumstances beyond my control or at least circumstances that make me uncomfortable enough to not allow me to do things the way I want were impeding on my writing.
Here’s where I extrapolated. I have a process, it’s chaotic but it works. Everything I write starts with an idea. I’ve got a bunch of them and I don’t necessarily know where they go but they’re always the cause for effect.
So I started writing. Just not the way I was before. I pulled up some three holed lined paper and I just started jotting down ideas. I was just writing random things. Some things are ridiculous, some things are precious, some things are too private, and others I just can’t wait to write about.
This practice scratched an itch and it allowed me to at least prepare for when I could get the ball rolling again. I could’ve worked on fixing my initial gripes. Of course I could have. But I knew that this was temporary.
And I’m okay with that. I wasn’t the most productive I could’ve been and it may have put a mark on my career trajectory but it fit my needs because it let me be comfortable. I know where I am in my life right now and I know that not succeeding right away isn’t going to kill my lack of success when it hasn’t even happened yet.
I think I need to just embrace when I’m not being perfect and when I’m not even attempting to be. Because I know I’m the type of person to pick myself up when I can. I once read a philosophy that said “if you eventually have to do it just do it now because then you won’t be thinking about doing it later and also having to do it later.” It’s a stupid saying but also, it works. I don’t do my dishes later because what will that accomplish? I’ll just hate them now and begrudgingly do them now.
What that means is I understand myself well enough to know my limitations and also know when I can work on the things that will help me in the future. I’m not going to give up because I had a momentary blip. And I’m not going to struggle if I’ll just end up making things ten times worse in the mean time.
If it sounds confusing that’s because it is confusing. It’s a weird line of doing too much and not doing enough. Mostly I was just arguing with myself in my head. If it sounds like I’m justifying it…maybe I am. But I’m okay with that.
I’m just working on getting myself where I need to be. A lesson learned, just not the one I thought I’d be learning.