Crippling Self-Doubt

writingThere’s a “meme” circulating on Facebook at the moment, which describes the writing process as the border between Absolute Narcissism and Crippling Self-Doubt. Thinking about it—though not for very long or particularly hard, admittedly—I suppose any piece of writing I actually upload for publication is on the Absolute Narcissism side of the coin. After all, I like it enough to give the potential for the world to see it. Today, however, I present the dark side of the moon, the Pit of Despair, the result of a little thing called writer’s block.

Frankly, my dear, I’m not sure what to write. What do I write? TELL ME WHAT TO WRITE, I order my brain, in just that tone of voice. It doesn’t work, unsurprisingly.

I blankly stare at the equally empty Microsoft Word page (handwriting my thoughts never helps). Stuff, I type out. Stuff and things. Well, at least there are now words decorating the barrenness, but what sort of stuff and things shall I now write about?

I shall write an essay. It will be an essay about cooking, and how I’m becoming more and more like my mother and grandmothers. After all, just the other day I told a friend, “add a bit of this, some of that, a little more of that, and a lot of that” and wa-la, a meal is produced, with no precise measurements required.

Nah, that’s dumb. “I’m becoming more like my mother.” How surprising. How original. Not.

I shall write a fiction piece, a story. It will be a story about…something. But I know you, my muse, all too well. You will start a simple story, but it will go on and on. Before long, it’ll be thirty pages, and not even half through, and then you will never finish it.

No, it is best not to submit a story to this blog before you’ve actually completed it. However, you almost never finish one. Thus, the vicious cycle repeats. Ah, well, I’ll worry about that some other time.

Once upon a time, there was a girl who didn’t know what to write…so instead she went and played piano fore an hour or so, did laundry, including her pillow cases, which were long overdue for a wash, and then she reorganized her bookshelf. The End. There you go: a story, with no frills necessary.

Speaking of books, maybe I can go back and revise that essay I wrote for one of my English classes, the one about what it means to grow up using examples from that collection of short stories, Who’s Irish. Eh, but that essay requires a bit more explanation of the plot of the novel…and I don’t think I have the book with me. Scratch that idea.

Just write something, please. Anything. After all, remember what your Children’s Literature professor from last semester said. You weren’t over fond of her, but she had a point: when you can’t think of anything to write, when what you write sound just plain dumb, still, you must write. Whether or not it’s perfect is of no consequence. You just have get your metaphorical heartbeat going, start your muse dancing, and hopefully the momentum will carry you through, and you will reach the required word count. So, in honor of that that professor, I shall now write. I shall write something.

There’s a meme circulating on Facebook…