Looking out my bedroom window and staring at the snow that’s currently blanketing North-Eastern Ohio, which is quite literally trapping me within my home; i am reminded of a blank word document. Since the end of NaNoWriMo i have opened WPS Writers (which is a wonderful program) nearly ever day and stared at the piercing white blankness, just hoping that the words will find their way from my brain to the keyboard, preferably in a cohesive manner. And each day, as i stare at the screen, i am nearly brought to a seething rage as the words slop out in unorganized, pedantic meanderings that slam any narrative i attempt to continue further into stagnation.
Stagnation… That is my my current feeling. I page through my previous writings, trying to find out what exactly derailed my breakneck progress, and feel a deep sense of stagnation. As it sits, i have four half-finished manuscripts, two first draft manuscripts, a dead podcast, and an endless pile of story ideas i had hoped to at least outline by the first of the year; and, like the snow falling outside, a dreadful sense of stagnation piles higher and higher as each day passes. Each corrective step i attempt is like a tremendous climb, and even when i manage to push through the building dread, i look back and see that my track of progress has already been buried and i am lost again in that desolate waste of a blank word document.
As typical, i tried to find excuses for this seemingly dead period in the creative process. Seasonal depression could be the first culprit, and it is something that hits particularly hard today when, after looking out the window, i am reminded of the lands North of the Wall in Game of Thrones. NaNoWriMo, a program designed to help breed a healthy habit of writing quickly, is another thing where i can place blame. Having to slug down 50,000 words in a single month (and failing to do so by only 8000 words), took a heavy toll on my self worth, determination, and my social life. I can also blame my day-to-day job, the thing i am only supposed to be doing between when i wrote as a hobby and when i was supposed to be writing for a living. With my constant shifting schedule and the exhaustive strain of forced social interactions (as depicted in my short story The Clerk), i find it hard to think of anything besides sleeping, eating, or fucking after the work day has concluded. I can blame the ill-fated, time tested Writer’s Block; The muse of writing has filled my head with so many wondrous ideas that they are rushing from my brain so quickly that they pulled a Three Stooges and are blocking their own escape. And then i can blame, well… Just about everything else: my loved ones for not encouraging me enough, my peers for failing to acknowledge the time and effort that goes into creating a narrative, Twitter for distracting me, my roommates for doing some thing or another that unsettles me in the slightest way but still manages to develop into an excuse as to why i can’t concentrate on writing. But really, when you get right down to it, there is only ONE reason i have found it so hard to write: I have lost my motivation and succumbed to self doubt.
Now, when i say that i have lost my motivation, it doesn’t mean that i have lost my passion for creating. Even when i’m not sitting in front of the computer typing away, or jotting quick little ideas and narratives down in my journal, i am still creating little bits and pieces of my stories; but when it comes to forming these ideas into fleshed out narratives with a beginning, middle, and end, i feel as if i’m beating my head against the wall. Each word seems forced, each sentence broken, and as i keep pressing harder and harder it feels like i am actually destroying every project i try to work on. And then, when i find that after an hour, two hours, five hours have passed and i have created nothing but halfhearted, throw away material, i begin to doubt my ability as a writer.
I know, i know. Sit the fuck down and write and write and write until something useful comes out, keep writing every day. Set an egg timer for an hour or throw a load in the laundry and don’t stop writing until the timer digs (as suggested by Chuck Palaniuk), write while listening through an entire album of your favorite soundtrack, write one hour before you go to sleep or one hour after you wake up everyday; whatever it is, just make a habit of writing. Keep at it until it becomes something as habitual as eating or shitting. But (and here’s another excuse) when you’ve been doing that day after day, after a 10 hour shift, after an argument with a roommate, after worrying about bills, after feeling like you’ve let some one down or upset a friend or significant other, after questioning your talents and abilities, and after seeing that each time you sit down to write you have to force the words from your brain; it really feels like you are trying to attempt the impossible. Writing, for me, isn’t something that’s a habit anymore. It’s not something like smoking or chewing gum, and i can’t do it impulsively like Brandon Sanderson (the Walmart of Fantasy Fiction). And as of late, it’s fallen further and further away from my daily activates. But this is something i have to change, or else i am just simply not a writer… And that scares the fucking shit right out of my ass.
When i sat down today, i really didn’t want to write an article depicting my “current state of self loathing.” In all actuality, i wanted to write an article about Dungeons and Dragons and the current campaign that i am running (one which takes place in Altara, where most, if not all, of my fantasy stories are set); but even that was hard to begin. After an hour of just trying to write the first sentence, i nearly shut off WPS and went to YouTube to watch people get kicked in the nuts and read the shitty comments that always some how end up as an argument about religion or ethics in gaming journalism. But i didn’t. I treated my blog as a college-rule composite notebook to find some catharsis. I never meant to continue the ritualistic smearing of WHY i’m not writing, instead of just focusing on writing. I am not asking for sympathy or a “pat on the back,” nor am i trying to pander to others who feel the same way. This is just something i needed to air out to myself more than anyone, and this is something i need to fix.