When Knowledge Strikes

I’ve only got one reason to be excited today, but it’s a good one.

At 14:00 today I rolled out of bed, head aching, and remorsefully canceled a date with my friend. She’s a musician and we were going to discuss the terms of working together as copywriter and artist. I was too groggy, though, having slept so little and too late in the night. However, talking to her reminded me of a deal we made about writing an artist description, so I opened a document I’d written earlier about her artistic values and ambitions.

We made the deal a week ago, or aybe even more than a week ago. I don’t remember, because I’ve been avoiding it.

My friend was hesitant to accept when I offered to write for her. She hates that aspect of the business, and doesn’t get how anyone could enjoy it. I assured her I do, though. “It’s fun for me,” I said. “I like this kind of stuff.”

And, y’know, I meant it at the time. I’d mean it if I said it now. But between then and now, all I felt was dread at the thought of even starting this make-or-break task. Make-or-break for her, that is, since an artist description can either get your music featured or thrown in the trashcan. This fact made it all seem even more monumental.

So, back to why I went to woke up at 2: I was up all night watching an online writing course. It got into narrative, paragraphs, sentences and words, and I devoured it all with a fierceness I’ve been missing in myself lately. When I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, I unwillingly gave up and went to sleep.

And here we are. When I woke up, I was excited to start the day because I’d get to write. I have no idea how that course could inspire such a huge change in my attitude, but it did. I got up, and talking to my friend reminded me that I need to write her that damn description.

And then I just started.

Not that that course swooped in and cleaned out all my fears and misconceptions of writing for good. I highly doubt that. But something about the clear explanations and demonstrations in that course just boosted my self-esteem by 10 000. I’ve honestly never experienced such a quick change in outlook, and it made an already groggy day so much better.

It made me believe that some day, the writing I create and the image I have of good writing will match.

I’ll make sure of it.

(The writing course I bought is called Ninja Writing: The Four Levels of Writing and is on sale on Udemy now. Click to see it.)

I’m Back

Phew, it’s been a while since I dared to check in here.

I’m still struggling with writing. Even my journaling has slowly petered off and ground to a halt. Amazingly, though, I feel better than I have in years. A lot has happened since I started this blog – I’ve been sober for over half a year, met a lot of new people, lost my job, started looking for a new job, moved to the other side of the city with my boyfriend, and most importantly, in my opinion: I’ve become just a little more courageous.

I recently met a guy in his forties who works freelance as a copywriter. He asked if I’m writing these days, and having lost both my writing job and my spark, I said no. So he advised me to write three or four sentences a day – no more, no less. I said I’d try and then get back to him.

Guess how that went.

But still, I’m feeling good. Still I’m feeling happy and on the right path. Because while all my attempts at writing regularly fail so hard they should award me with some prize, I’m finally – finally – coming to love the idea of going with the flow. I don’t need to write 2000 words a day at this stage. My biggest task is to challenge the multitude of fears I struggle with every day, and that’s completely fine. At this point in my life writing should just be a fun outlet. I don’t know why I didn’t figure it out sooner.

That’s why I’m writing here. I just wanted to. I want to. I feel like writing a hundred blog posts tonight. It feels fun again, and that means so much more to me than “having written”.

Good evening from Norway, guys. I hope you’re all well.

Forget Your Writing Plans… Sometimes

Recently I made a list of blog posts I could write for an unnamed, so far non-existent blog. Just a project I’m playing with in my head for now. But I needed to make a goal for myself so the whole thing doesn’t just fade into oblivion after a week or two.

The goal was to write ten blog posts in two weeks. That’s attainable. That way I’ll figure out if I can write enough about the chosen topics for the blog, and whether I’ll find it inspiring to write about.

I made the list a couple of days ago. Today I sat down to get started on the first post, browsing the list for the most appealing idea. Nothing stood out. I’d been excited about them when I wrote them down, but today, nothing.

I sat there, staring at my laptop. Something had to pop out if I just read the list enough times.

Nope. Nada. I didn’t want to write about any of those things today.

A little bummed, I began wondering if this blog was really going to happen after all. What if I can’t keep up my enthusiasm for an idea for more than a day or two?

Then I perked up at a sudden thought:

Wait, what do I want to write about? It doesn’t have to be those topics!

I was so locked into the idea of writing about these specific ideas that I forgot that I could write about anything else. Of course there are other things I want to write about. Something is always happening specific to this day or moment that I care more about than pre-made ideas. How did I forget that?

That’s exactly how this post came into being. Right now, this was more relevant to my experience than anything else. And that’s fine. It’s okay to not always know beforehand what you want to say. It’s okay to discover something new while you’re waiting for other words to come.

I’m a notorious planner and worrier, always on the lookout for ways to organise things even better. I always want to know what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it. That doesn’t necessarily tie in well with the spontaneous, impulsive exercise writing sometimes has to be.

Sometimes you need to let go of control to let yourself say what’s most authentic to you in this moment.

Having to let go and write something unplanned made me fear that I won’t attain my writing goals. As I said, I’m a worrier. But I choose to look at it this way:

You can’t always control what it is you need to write. Sometimes it’ll break with your plans and goals. But: The overarching plan is always to write. So do that. Let that be okay. The will to write what you planned will come, and if it doesn’t, maybe you need to adjust your plans. Tweak the angles, choose a new topic, break it into smaller steps. Or motivate yourself and find the inspiration you need.

But for now, just be happy that the words are coming. Even thought they’re not the words you planned.

The End of Worry-Writing

I’ve had a lot of ideas for blog posts lately, just not for this blog. When I started it I was so excited at the thought of finally having a never-ending reserve of things to write about, because I’m always having troubles with writing. But then I realised something.

Writing about things I should be doing only distracts me from actually doing them.

This, of course, includes writing. It hit me today when I was sitting on the balcony, writing in my journal (which I update regularly). Today is Saturday, and I was really enjoying a sense of freedom from having the whole weekend ahead of me, and filling it with things I want to do. Though I also felt like I should exercise and write something other than a journal entry, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

So I wrote about it. What’s the problem? Why don’t I want to write and exercise? Which precise thoughts are causing me to not want to do it? On and on it went, and I felt more and more lost, until I started feeling just a hint of crazy. How can you write about things you want to do until you want to do them?

You can’t. At least I can’t.

I don’t want to write and exercise because I don’t want to feel uncomfortable. And the only way to fight that discomfort is by getting to know it. How do you get to know it? By facing it, of course. By doing the things you don’t want to do.

Not by exploring your worries in the hopes that it’ll make you feel safer and more courageous. It won’t. But surviving the discomfort you fear will.

Admittedly, I haven’t had ideas for this blog for quite a while. It just sort of sat there and made me feel guilty for not updating it. But now that I see how pointless it is to write about worries to make them go away, I can’t defend the point of the blog anymore. Unless I see another angle to write from, I’ll be ditching this blog completely.

And in a way, that’s a good thing. It means I’m ready to abandon an unproductive habit. If I don’t feel ready to face my fears just yet, at least I’m not fooling myself into thinking I’m facing them when I’m actually just trying to save myself from discomfort – discomfort that it’s best to confront.

I’ll give myself a little time to think of another direction the blog can go. If nothing turns up, I’ll see what I do from there. Maybe I start a new blog, maybe I try to write privately instead. We’ll see.

In any case, I’m done with worry-writing.

From Bad to Better

Since I’m dreading it so much, it’s time to write in here again. Immediately my mind goes blank, just as it’s been doing at work lately. In the last few months writing at work has been a real chore, and most of the time I’ve been about 10 000 words from the mark. It sent my mood right to the depths. I’ve still been writing steadily in my journal(s), but that’s an entirely different type of writing – there I can just detail my thoughts and feelings and the things that are happening in my daily life.

At least I recently discovered that that’s the sensible way to journal. Writing in my journal, too, felt like a chore for many months. In fact, I was actively dreading it. When writing down my thoughts and feelings it often just made me feel like none of my mental life made any sense, and when I was finished writing, I had this confused, chaotic feeling buzzing around inside me. Like there was no point in trying to tidy my thoughts. Like I wasn’t even meant to be journaling.

When I’d underachieved one too many times at work, my boss threatened to fire me. Well, it wasn’t as much of a threat as a warning. After months and months of oversleeping and staring up at the office ceiling with bug-eyes I finally decided enough was enough. I was angry at myself, and at at how hard it is to live well. Three weeks later that anger has deflated into a resolve I’ve aggressively used to accomplish things. Such as getting up in the mornings, eating healthy, working out as much as my will allows me, and forcing myself to write no matter how hard it is.

So here I am, doing the same in this blog. I reckon that if I can make demanding changes in all those areas, I can probably do it with my own writing. Though for me, finding the will to write for myself is perhaps the most demanding change of all.

Which brings me back to journaling. A few days ago I was writing in my notebook when I realised I don’t ever write about the stuff that happens in my life. Catching up with friends, quibbles with my boyfriend, things happening at work – none of it. So I thought, that’s weird. I should try writing about some of that. What if I just write about my morning?

So I did, and it instantly relieved some of that terrible sense of chaos. I wrote about more mundane things, and felt even better. What the hell was going on?

I think what I was discovering was that I needed a context for my feelings and states of mind for them to make sense. I needed to be aware of what was happening in my life, properly aware, to see the relations between my inner and outer life. Journaling about things I’d normally just internally analyse and then push out of my mind made them much clearer to me. And better yet, they made me feel like more of a person with a story. Like everyone else.

That’s my latest discovery, and I’m relieved it came. Doing anything at all was starting to feel too tiresome, I was so scattered in my mind.

Now I can connect the dots a little easier, which gives me the mental space I need to start writing about not being able to write again. (Wink.)