It transpires that I have been over thinking it. What a surprise (to absolutely nobody, at all, in the world). This is what I do. And I know this. I have done it all my adult life. I think so hard on what needs to be done and the best way to do it that I become completely paralysed and can do precisely nothing. On top of this I am a perfectionist, so I think too much about how to do the thing exactly right, and what is the right thing anyway? And oh, what about that other thing that also could be the best thing? And now I have a list of a million things and what if all of them are a bad idea and ……. Actually, where is my blanket? I’ll be under there and I’ll see you next year, maybe, if the stars are in alignment, and the weather is right and my stomach doesn’t hurt.
I haven’t been able to write in weeks. I don’t have writer’s block. Quite the opposite in fact. I am paralysed by the sheer scale of all the things I want to write, that I already have notes on, that I have already begun, that I already have several volumes of ‘War and Peace’ scale content for.
I in fact have a whole Blog Plan. And this is not just some random bulleted list of vague ideas. This is a detailed Excel spreadsheet, with three different worksheets – all colour coded, with titles and notes on content, and links to other relevant resources. A good year’s worth of material. As if this wasn’t enough to be going on with, I also have many, many electronic folders of online research, other people’s writing and interesting ideas that I have collected over the past few years, which I always intended to use as inspiration for future writing projects. This is before I even begin to think about all the travel tales, amusing mishaps and beautiful moments I want to share with the world.
Because, as well as a perfectionist, I am also an organisation freak, and I am a planning geek. And so, it transpires, I am the most organised and prolific unproductive person I have ever known.
What is very interesting to me is that, until I wrote with the intention of sharing with other people in the world, this wasn’t a problem for me at all.
I have, for example, kept a monthly online journal for the last 6 years. Written on a regular (sometimes daily) basis. Within this is some random stuff that would be of no use to anyone at all. But some of this stuff is good, some of it useful and thoughtful and perhaps even interesting. So, there is another 6 years of material – ready to be explored and some of it potentially shared. And that’s only the electronic stuff. There are a good number of handwritten journals before that – the ones that survived the great writing purge of my youth (all prior content having been summarily destroyed in my mother’s Aga for fear another living soul might see it and judge it).
So I have been stuck, in this perfectionist vortex, with all this material swimming around me screaming to be released into the wild, but unable to settle on any one thought that was ‘Good enough’. Unable to narrow down the screaming to one next thing, one thing that might be helpful, or meaningful or worthy of anyone else’s precious time.
The few pieces I have written for my blog that I have actually loved, have been those pieces that came to me during sleepless, stress-filled nights – like divine gifts that I didn’t write so much as they were channelled through me. I think I have been waiting for another one of those. But lately it hasn’t been forthcoming.
But this morning I read a piece by Deniz Yalim, of the very inspiring BayArt.org, which read:
Write for yourself first
Write for yourself first & foremost. Ignore the fact that anyone else will read what you write; just focus on your thoughts, ideas, opinions and figure out how to put those into words. Write it and they will come.
And so, I have had to get over myself, get out of my own way, and just bloody write. Because time is awasting, and I am thinking of new ideas daily, and as I am already (at the very least) 7 years behind, I really have some catching up to do.
Some of what I am going to write may be of some use. Some of it may be absolute blither. Some of it will perhaps make no sense to anyone but me. But some of it, if I’m lucky, I may love. And, if I’m even luckier still, so might you. But we are just going to have to go with it, and write regardless, and take our chances and hope for the best. I can only apologise in advance for any upcoming blither. x
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