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Missing Left Sock Beast
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Coyote Musings
Coyote handsome
his coat the same brown
as the dust from which he rises


What is the sound of one hand slapping Schroedinger's cat?


The Quantum Duck goes "quark, quark."

September 2010
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Missing Left Sock Beast [userpic]
Holidailies, Day 14: Writing and Stubborn (Inner) Children

I sort of, vaguely, kind of, maybe am having the urge to write some fiction, or possibly some poetry. I think. I'm not actually sure. And the truth of the matter is that whether or not I feel like writing, it's something I should do. Only there's that tricky word "should" that I have so much trouble with.

It seems dishonest, somehow, to say that I'm a rebel. I was the quiet kid in school, the one who never smoked, never drank, never snuck out at night, never had illicit sex with anyone in the back of their car, never did drugs. Sure, I fought with my parents and wanted to move out, but I'd imagine most teenagers feel that way from time-to-time (and that most parents fantasize about letting them). I know I've said this before, but I am damned stubborn. And a lot of that stubbornness is based in rebellion: Person X in my life thinks that I'm a fat slob who never does anything right? I'll show them just how much of a fat screwup slob I can be. Or, conversely, Person X in my life thinks that I should be making my living as a writer (Ha! This shows how much Person X knows about the publishing business)? I'll resist writing even a single word, even though I would like to write, just to spite them.

(Several of you think you know who Person X is. You're probably right. Others of you have a Person X in your own life.)

Does anyone else see a problem with this coping mechanism? Cutting off one's nose to spite one's face comes to mind, for one thing. There's also the issue that this stubborn insistance both to do and not to do what Person X expects of me has become an ingrained habit, to the point that I haven't written much of anything in months. Sure, I started NaNoWriMo with good intentions this year, just like I always do, and then petered out because I found it very difficult to sit down at the computer and put fingertips to keyboard. I would have had the same difficulty putting pen to paper, if I were so inclined, compounded by the fact that writing longhand for more than about ten minutes can cause me physical pain.

I have ideas in my head. Several of them, in fact, some of which might even make good books (others, well, the less said about them the better, and they can stay either in my head or on a post-it on my Mac). And probably some of the ones I think are in the latter category are in the former, and vice-versa, but in my opinion that's the nature of the beast. I know there are others more knowledgeable about the craft of writing whose experience probably differs from my opinion, but that's all good. The trick is getting the ideas from my head onto the paper, and then fleshing them out until they're "real." (I suppose I mean real there in a sort of Velveteen Rabbit sense, though I'm not entirely sure.)

The issue is that although I can sit down at my computer and open my writing software and tell myself that I'm going to write 100 words or 1000 words or for five minutes or for fifteen minutes that seldom happens. I might write one sentence, or a couple of words. But most of the time I end up with the software running in the background while I do something else much less productive. And it all ties back to that really non-productive stubbornness and the well-worn tracks of not-writing that have become a really bad habit, and one I don't know how to break. It is very difficult for me to make myself do something. Sure, I can tell myself that whatever it is has to be done, but...the stubborn child reappears and says, "I don't hafta! I won't!" (Insert stomping foot here.) And, it seems somehow naturally, I don't.

This is a behavior pattern I have become very aware of - that I don't do something that I do want to do because I'm trying not to please someone who I actually want very much to please but know I can't so why should I put out the effort to do so? Knowing may be half the battle, but I have no clue how on earth to undo this behavior or turn my stubbornness back on itself so it's working in my favor. Sitting down in front of the computer and telling myself that I want to write doesn't help, because that rebel child is right there convincing the rest of my psyche that I don't want to, that I think I should, and I am resistant to should. This isn't being afraid of the blank page. This is knowing that I'm perfectly capable of starting something that I will "should" myself into never finishing.


:-) I was writing out my New Year's Resolutions and decided I *should* write at least one hour a day in 2009. We'll see how it goes....!

I don't do so well with New Year's Resolutions, either. :) Good luck!

I have exactly the same "don't hafta!" thing. Which is why nagging is supremely ineffective at getting me to do stuff. I don't know how to get past it, either.

My similar issue is what I call the B student phenomenon. I'm afraid of failing, so I don't try very hard. If I half ass something and screw it up, its not as hard for me to deal with as giving it my all and still failing.

I have the same behavior pattern - part of me wants to do something creative, and another part doesn't want to, and the part that doesn't want to wins.

I'm not sure that for me it's about Person X. I am not sure if it's about avoiding frustration (there's invariably a little frustration in doing something creative, at least more frustration than in playing facebook games) or if it's about avoiding some other kind of mental state that I fear might come up if I do the creative work.

*sigh* I sure know those procrastination blues. But people can change those patterns. You have talent and skill and I would like to see you succeed however you define it.