Storyteller’s Howl: Desire & Actuation…

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I want to write. That’s never been in question. My previous post about writer’s block outlined some of the issues I’ve had and am having with that desire. Even now, I sit here with a huge pile of work in front of me and wonder when I’m ever going to have a chance to actually write – the truth has finally come to me.

I have to write on my own time.

That might not make much sense right now. I’ll try to explain. Every day I have a few hours of “my own time” after work and before I start getting ready for bed. Sometimes this time is spoken for days in advance – like with our now-weekly Raid in WoW. But other times it isn’t that it’s spoken for…it’s that I’m very possessive of my down time. And what do I do if I don’t feel like writing? I end up feeling obligated to write, and all that does is make me churn out pages of written words that I hate the next day. Mine is a fickle muse, as I’m sure I’ve stated before. If I’m not inspired, I can’t write well. Or even if other people think I HAVE, I know I haven’t. I know I could do better. And for an artist (visual or written, it doesn’t matter) there’s nothing worse than looking at a piece you’ve created and the only thought going through your head is, “I could have done so much better…”

So I try only to write when the inspiration hits me. As a result, though, I almost never have the drive to write at a time that coincides with a TIME when I can write. Blog posts are one thing – I’m learning to churn these out even when I don’t have an inspiration because…well, they’re blog posts. I’m not writing a story, I’m essentially babbling to a blank screen and knowing people will read it later. Most blog posts I’ve written, I enjoy when I read over them later.

Others I don’t. But that’s neither here nor there – my point is that there’s a distinct line between TYPES of writing. There’s work-writing, school writing, book writing, fanfiction writing, and blog writing. (There are probably more, but these are the ones I deal with the most.)

Work writing is all encompassing. I can’t wait for a muse to strike when I need to pen a marketing letter or an inter-office memo to get or keep a ball rolling within the company. I can’t put things off, I can’t sit around and think “I don’t feel like it right now.” I have to do it. I have to do it NOW, and I have to make it work, even if I don’t have an inspiration.

Work writing and school writing are similar in many respects – the differences being that, for the most part with school writing, I’ve picked the topic and am usually a bit more invested in it than I am in work writing. But, like work writing, school writing has a definite due date and obligations that must be covered before I can consider the project finished. Now, I admit – in school writing I tend to be a one-pass writer. On my site, under “Essays” you’ll find most, if not all, the papers I’ve ever written for different classes. It’s shocked people to find out that most of those were written in one draft, usually only a few days before the due date.

But that’s not how school writing is supposed to be done! It’s supposed to be outline, rough draft, first draft, second draft, final draft. But let’s be honest – what college student, carrying a full load of classes, has the time and energy to put that much into ONE paper, when they probably have four going at the same time, in differing areas of study? The last thing you want to do as a student is have “source bleed” from working on too many papers at once. So what do we do? We write a rough draft, we write it as well as we possibly CAN, and we move on to the next class and the next paper, putting the first one out of our minds. If we tried the tiered process with every paper, we would spend entire semesters working on nothing but papers, we’d be exhausted, and by the end of the semester we’d have so much (possibly even conflicting) information floating around in our heads that we wouldn’t even remember what we were supposed to be focusing on when Finals came around. We don’t have a chance to work through this – we don’t have the ability to do so. So we write as best we can and move on, regardless of inspiration.

The other types of writing – book, fanfiction, and blog, are different because there isn’t usually that gun-to-the-head feeling. Now, I can’t talk. I wrote my second book over a one month period through the NaNoWriMo deadline buzz. But in that month, I never once lost the inspiration. I never lost the will to write, and I LOVED what I was working on. I loved it. I still do. My first book was written over the course of several years, and by the time I finished it, I barely even LIKED it anymore. Writing had become a chore when it had been a pleasure, and I never want that to happen again. So for awhile I only wrote fanfiction.

Fanfiction is wonderful. But I learned the hard way that I’m not cut out for writing epic fanfic sagas unless I write them QUICKLY. There are two stories on my fanfic page over ten years old – they’re unfinished. They probably will never be finished, since I moved away from the fandoms they’re based in over time and on to new interests. I started churning out one-shot fanfics in many different fandoms – almost all of which are archived on my site. I write a lot in a fandom when inspiration strikes and my energies are tied in to the world I’m writing about. Then I’ll go very long periods when, even though I’ll have a story in my head, I just won’t be able to get it on paper. This also happens to me with artwork – I’ll be inspired, but….it won’t quite be that oomph I need to actually do something about the inspiration.

Blog writing is somewhere in between. Sometimes I’m inspired, sometimes I just need to talk about a feeling, and sometimes I just need to babble into nothingness. Still other times I feel the need to help or try to educate others, and that results in things like my blog series’. But I do go through phases, sometimes months long, where I can’t even when I want to blog. The writing just won’t come. I could force it, sure. And sometimes I do, if I feel what I need to say is important enough.

The truth is that desire doesn’t always equal actuation with writing, and right now, when I want to be writing and can’t because I need to be working, that situation is more than annoying. It’s maddening.

Yeah. I have to start finding time to actually write again. And I will.

After work.