Lately, I’ve been feeling resistance to writing. Maybe I’m in the dip, maybe I’ve gotten so many words out that it’s no longer easy, and the lack of ease makes it… well… harder? I don’t know. But I’ve started dreading my return to 750words.com, wishing I had excuses that felt more solid and believable so I could skip writing, just for one day?
But then I think, it’s not that hard. It’s just 20 minutes, usually less, and it feels good to get words out, right?
Yes, yes, it does. But I don’t want to do it! I resist and protest and squirm, thrash about on the internet in the hopes of finding something pressing I need to do urgently, anything to keep me from writing for the day. But as the hours tick by and I avoid and avoid, I get less and less happy. I feel less and less good about avoiding. It’s funny, it starts off with a merry sense of bother; I don’t want to write and who cares! It’s no big deal! I’ll just… um… read Facebook for an hour.
With that done, I dip into Twitter. Then look! I’ve got emails! They need my attention, yes? Yes, of course. I finish those and then… hey… look! I’ve got new posts in Google Reader by people I adore huge lots! I’ve got to read those and comment on a few of them. Need to support my community-mates, after all. Okay, that’s done… so I’ll look on Etsy. Clearly, I desperately need to shop for something, right? Hmmm, but then I remember I don’t actually want to spend money because I’m learning to counter my retail therapy reaction, so I drop off Etsy quick-like lest I be tempted.
So then I start all over. Facebook, Twitter, email, g-reader. Thrash, thrash, avoid. I’ll talk to Pace about nothing, which irritates her. I’ll round up my cat and pet him. I’ll check the mail too early, just for the excuse of walking to the mailbox and back. I’ll lurk in the kitchen when I’m not hungry.
Anything to keep from writing.
It’s amazingly similar to how I react when I want to exercise, too. Avoid avoid. Procrastinate. Anything but.
But when I think about it, I don’t understand it. I love writing. I love exercising. Both make me feel more alive, more connected to myself, more real. I push my boundaries with both. I feel pride in accomplishing both.
But, with both, I have to ride the line between choosing to and have to – as soon as I have to write, I’m done. I’ll never accomplish it. I’ll procrastinate and fuss, thrash and avoid til the sun sets. I write because I love to write. I exercise because I love to exercise. I do what I love because to do anything else is a waste of precious time.
Why, then, do I thrash and avoid so? I feel so deeply aligned with writing, so deeply connected to it. It’s the first thing I’ve ever done that feels 100% for me, even when I’m writing for the blog. Even when I’m writing for someone else specifically, I feel like I’m writing for me. (Unless it’s “copy”. As soon as writing becomes “marketing”, I’m toast.) I feel more connected to myself when I write every day. I feel more connected to life when I write every day.
Yet still, I avoid. I procrastinate. I thrash.
It’s an interesting sensation, this avoidance of the one thing I feel so passionate about. Am I punishing myself, pushing away from the activities that bring me the most pleasure? What am I afraid of? I’m certainly afraid; I don’t avoid when I don’t feel fear. Where does the fear come from? What’s that about?
I think it’s the dip.
I get really into something, and I pledge to do it every day. I know that’s what I most want. I start up, and I’m loving it. I find it easy, fun, enjoyable. But then it becomes a little harder. I hit some kind of wall, and it’s not so easy anymore. Maybe my legs tire out in minutes, or maybe I feel like I’ve written all I have to say. So I hit the wall, and sitting down to write isn’t fun anymore. It’s hard. It’s an effort. I have to think, I have to work to get the words out, whereas before they just flew from my fingertips and soared into my computer. Now I have to work hard. I look at the screen and wonder what will come out next, and I sigh and feel frustrated when the answer isn’t readily available.
I think this is poison. We get the impression that the things we love will be easy, fun, enjoyable every time we sit down to do them. Writing, painting, exercising, cooking – if we enjoy it, then it’ll be effortless. It’s like the myth of the one true love – we’re gonna find our one true love, know instantly, and live happily ever after.
But happily ever after is misleading. We can certainly live happily ever after, but nowhere does it say happily equals easily. Sometimes, happy takes a lot of work. This is true for relationships – and I’m beginning to see it’s true for passions. I love Pace, but that doesn’t mean every conversation we have will be pleasant. It doesn’t mean we’re going to get along smoothly and without conflict for the rest of our lives. And the reverse holds: having conflict does not mean we don’t love each other, and it doesn’t mean we can’t be happy.
I love writing, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never have conflict with my words. It doesn’t mean I’m going to easily and smoothly write every time I do so. And just because I have conflict with writing, that doesn’t mean it’s not the perfect thing for me to be doing.
I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: happily ever after does not mean easily. Sometimes, the really good stuff is worth working really hard for.