A friend and much-admired writer (among his other titles, which include artist, songwriter, poet, photographer, journalist, and arguably just about anything and anywhere creativity can take an invididual) wrote this in his blog recently:
Writing is both a curse and a beam of grace. Before I actually start writing my weekly article for Philippine Star, I notice a heaviness building up in me. I am beset with fear, doubt and inertia about writing. I am stumped by the perennial questions most writers face which is, what to write about. What do I really want to say? But often, the moment I sit down and commit to write, something does happen. It’s like inspiration always shows up when we go through the trouble of asking Her to. And yet, the fact that it happens 99% of the time is not reassuring enough for me. Often, we fixate on the 1% that things will go wrong. I guess that’s the accompanying angst that writers go through. It’s a paradox. Without the accompanying doubt, the beam of grace like the cavalry that comes to the rescue, is worthless.
I go through the same paralyzing inertia the moment I think to myself, “Hey, it’s been a while since I’ve written something on my blog. Maybe I should fix that.” For me, it’s a war between structure and flow. When I’m away from the computer, certain events throughout my day trigger thoughts in my head that entertain me, often to the point of me thinking I’d like to write about it. Then, when faced with the screen and the blinking cursor, I freeze. What were those thoughts again? How do I put them down without sounding like a rambling idiot?
How can I organize my thoughts into a cohesive, flowing whole when I need post-its on my refrigerator to remind me to sort out my kitchen drawer?
Being a regular follower of Jim’s blog and having read all the articles he’s written, I was very surprised to find that he agonizes over every post or article. Each one is so well-crafted and insightful that I always believed his writing was an effortless art fashioned from a heightened awareness and sensitivity, an everyday man who found the secret to communicating universal truths and making them deeply personal for every reader.
I don’t have that gift. It’s usually hit-or-miss with me. Or, at the very best, hit-or-keep-trying. Sometimes, as a dear friend once put it, writing for me is “like bleeding for words.”
When I used to play basketball, I was a streak shooter. Half a quarter would go by and everything I threw in the air somehow found the basket. Then, just as suddenly, I’d get cold and start tossing bricks. My coach knew to take me out of the game then and let the streak find me again before frustration set in.
I think I’ve always thought of myself as a streak writer. When I’m in the zone, the words come easy. And they come often. I like those streaks and learned to wait patiently for them.
But often, the moment I sit down and commit to write, something does happen.
Perhaps therein lies my problem. I sit down and hope to write. Maybe it’s as simple as just committing to write. Maybe it’s not so much waiting on the sidelines for the streak to show up and get back in the game. Maybe I just have to show up, intent on playing.
Oh, did I mention I’m also a streak resolution-maker?