14 Apr Swimming Through Molasses | some thoughts on writing
I wish I wrote more. How can i get myself to write more? To produce? Todd [my brother] encouraged me, when I started my blog, to just throw whatever up there. I used to do that more but then i get bored or don’t feel like I have anything to say. But I have more to say than I could even write in a lifetime. I read somewhere recently that CS Lewis said we write to understand not to be understood. Interesting. And then the other day I read something by Parker Palmer and he was explaining that he writes books to explore topics and himself and once he feels he’s done that he moves on. He writes to learn. I don’t necessarily understand this. I don’t understand what it looks like to write about what I don’t know about. I mean I get it, but I have a hard time seeing what that would look like for myself. Obviously I don’t know everything about what I write about and maybe that’s all he’s saying, but I do think I have tended to write to be understood or be affirmed for what I know. I’m not sure I see writing as a process whereby I explore. I do that in my head and I do that well in my head. So when it gets to writing, it becomes a secondary process instead of it being a primary process that many say it is.
I also write too much for others. I want to be affirmed. I think this also keeps me from writing. I will only write something that I know about and feel others might find interesting. Again, here as well, I find it difficult to imagine writing only for myself, not worrying about the need for affirmation. But then if I just write for myself, what’s the point of writing my thoughts down? I can just think them. I understand that writing helps us to formalize our thoughts, but I’m not sure it does that for me. I seem to do pretty well in my own mind, coupled with reading. When I read I am writing academic articles in my head based on other things I have read, to continuously integrate a full gestalt of the material in my mind.
For instance, what has been the point in writing everything I just did? None of that is new to me. Is it that I need to just keep writing until the new information arises? I guess this is the point of morning pages so that one gets all the stuff out of the mind that has already been there to make room for new information. I feel so impatient about this process. It feels like swimming through molasses. Am I just lazy? Do I just want immediate gratification? Maybe. But that just seems too simplistic.
Also, I tend to write stuff that is just from my own thoughts. I am often taking that full gestalt I spoke of before from others’ thoughts and writing and putting down how it has gathered in my own mind; but I am not doing the more academic work of citing sources and developing some of those thoughts further by obtaining more information. If I am considering being a professor and writer, I need to find a way around this stumbling block. Is this always just some sort of writer’s block? This has always been an issue I cannot figure out. It seems like it’s just a discipline issue, but even if that’s the case, what creates the block to my discipline?
While writing feels like swimming through molasses, I actually want to be able to slow down into it. I want to be able to do research and develop my thoughts, then communicating them to the world. Is that another reason why I might just be an educator? My desire is to communicate my ideas, develop theories, and help others learn and grow through knowledge. I do this in therapy as well and can have more direct influence on that happening in one’s personal life, but I’m not sure I get fired up about that as much as the philosophy and theory behind that process.
See, I should just let this be a journal entry but I want to post it. I want people to read stuff I write. I want to be affirmed. It’s not all bad. I think it tells me what I want to be doing in many ways, but it also seems to get in the way. It makes me want to rush. For instance, if I think about writing a book, I think about how long that would be before someone could read what i was writing. If I took a year or so to write a book, it would be hard not to be sharing that writing right away as I was writing it. I’m sure I could be writing other stuff that brings some of that affirmation. Writing a book feels like swimming through molasses. I’m just not a methodical person. I also get bored with topics easily. This poses a real problem to both getting a PhD and writing a book. I would have to write a book in a day! Ha! By tomorrow I’m already bored.
So what is writing for? Better question: what is writing for me? What do I want writing to be for me and my life? How do I want to use it? What might it look like to just “produce” as my brother encouraged me to do, not worried about who’s reading, commenting, or caring? I feel like that is a paradigm shift that I cannot see. I don’t understand what it looks and feels like to have my attention on writing to write, on writing as personal process, on writing to understand, on writing to produce and to practice.
Lastly, I am getting tired of writing about my own personal process. I also worry that others are too. Are they just narcissistic ramblings? Do I just look self-involved? I guess I am self-involved. I don’t mind when others write this way, but I fear certain people in my life think it’s annoying. That’s interesting to me. Why do I care? I’m just trying to be honest and put that out there since I value the same honest process in others. Anyway, I am somewhat getting tired of that being what I am producing for my blogs. I want to be writing more constructed pieces, even if they are about my life or my experiences or my thoughts. More stuff about something specific.
So I just wrote 1100 words. They are easy because they just come off the top of my head. Could I have spent 1100 words on something more constructed, something more readable to others? That process always seems harder because I have to think more. I have to take all of my thoughts and knowledge about what I am wanting to write about and squeeze it through the small channel of writing. It’s slow. I have to look at sources, I have to be more methodical, which is the experience that always stops me, and the experience that feels like swimming through molasses.