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August 28th, 2012 / 8:34 am
Craft Notes & Random

riting not riting

Some days it feels like pushing words around in a flat wheelbarrow. You write for hours with no real result, or with result far from satisfactory, or with result very far from satisfactory, as if you’ve lost the thing (always a fear), the thing that worked before but is now clearly not working (see David Duval, see Harper Lee [?], etc.). Were these hours wasted? In a busy life, could you have spent these hours on something clearly and concretely productive (mowing lawn, purchasing drugs, thinning mints, etc.)? Some bray, “Well, it all counts,” it is all grist for the mill, tourists for the ants, but possibly they are patronizing a person who just spent many fruitless hours staring at the whiteout conditions, the frowned forehead of the page. For me, a lifelong runner, I think of training. Some days I’m in a glow groove with running—the planned fartlek, tempo, hill surges, go exactly as I’d imagined.

Other days–and I learned this after decades of competitive running–the biorhythms are just funky-junked, right from the first warm-up step. There is immediately no flow. The legs are squid. So I usually shut that workout down. I switch the workout over to something less arduous, or I might just go play disc golf, or I might pop open a beer. That day wasn’t the day. Period. So maybe, in writing, we should do the same? Just accept the reality of the neurotransmitters and let it go. The other option—and, admittedly I’ve seen this work in running, though not so often—is to grind yourself into that space. Some read a book or lit mag, or listen to music (or write a blog post?), whatever, hoping to prime the engine, to transition into writing. Is that the better way? Or another? It’s something I’m pondering.