The title of this post may sound brutal but, then, the title isn’t exactly true either. Yet it is what I have been telling myself pretty frequently over the last couple of months.
Usually, it involves looking at an empty page, flinging my arms skyward, cursing, before exclaiming “I can’t write anymore”, “I’ve lost the words” or something similar.
During this time I’ve only written two poems and I wrote hardly anything poetic during September. Well, I wrote one poem during the month but at most no matter how many times I read it I could only categorise it as inoffensive. I can’t feel any more enthusiastic about the words than that. My response to my own work is lukewarm. I apocalyptically opine that I have been deserted by my Muse. Though I occasionally think I can hear her laughing behind my back as I stare at the flashing cursor on the naked flesh of the computer screen.
But then this is what I do. I always used to resent the time I spent writing poetry while I was trying to keep up my daily word count in my fiction writing. It took me a while to accept that I needed to have the creative escape hatch of writing a poem unconnected to the story universe I was writing in while I figured out the problems within the fiction. Sometimes though I used to write a poem connected to the fiction, cementing the atmosphere of a story location in my mind or allowing a character a chance to express themselves outside the restrictive form of sentences, paragraphs and chapters.
But still, in my mind, it was only sentences, paragraphs and chapters that mattered when it came to word count. And a lack of word count was one of my favourite things to beat myself up with as a writer.
To that end can writers not share on social media messages such as “… written 5k words today, best day ever whoop, whoop… ” or complaining “… 11 am and have only written three chapters so far today… ”. Because I can’t relate with that, the more relatable message for me would be “… really pleased, with today’s score Chocolate Biscuits eaten 7, Words Written 8 …”. That’s the sort of message that resonates with me.
Yes, I’m very happy with the chapters that I have managed to write during September and October. I’m especially pleased with the opening sentence of one particular chapter …
… yet I stress myself over my lack of output when I need to look at my creativity more holistically.
I know I need to be kind to myself, yes quite a lot of the time my creativity, the poetry especially, comes out of the stresses and anxieties within my life. But if I focus too much on the negatives I risk shutting out all the other avenues of creativity for occasionally I write about sunlight and warm feelings. Too much darkness will only lead me into a dead-end of zero creation. Word-count is not my friend because I know I need time away from one creative coal-face occasionally to recharge my batteries. And finally if I wake up in the morning and write five-hundred words relating to a completely separate project in a storm of creativity that is because that is the strand of my subconscious that wants to communicate at that moment, I shouldn’t try to silence it and having ideas on one topic can lead to more ideas in time on other projects as long as I am patient with myself, because I need to make-believe. And I need chocolate biscuits too but that is a separate story.
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