While I was talking to a coworker over lunch today, I had an epiphany. I abhor the writing process.
Yet, my career is writing. And in my personal life, I aspire to be a writer.
There I was, talking about an article I’m (sort of) working on at the office. I say “sort of” because I’ve been taking procrastination to new heights. The article’s an easy thing, just a couple pages. But I’m struggling and have been generally avoiding it for the past couple of weeks. So I’m telling my coworker about this and explaining why: “See, I have to write these two pages, and I have no idea what to write, and it’s different messaging than everything else I do, and like I said I have no idea what to write and I hate how I write and what I write when I do write, and, well, I just hate the process of writing. I love the end result, but I hate the process.”
What kind of crazy, fucked-up writer am I? To hate the process of writing, which is basically the entire practice of being a writer.
This is something I’ve always known about myself, but never really articulated until today. Upon further reflection, though, it’s so true. And I think (I hope) the writers in the crowd will agree with me. The process of writing just plain sucks. But the end result is practically orgasmic. The process — staring at a blank piece of paper knowing you have to fill it? Scary. Coming up with the right words in the right order that talk about the right thing. Tedious. The self-esteem issues that come with not thinking it’s your best work but it’s the best you can do? Exhausting. But the result? Getting in the groove and creating something really cool? Having people tell you it’s just right, that it’s funny and wise? Ah, those highs bring me out of the worst case of the blahs.
I think my problem is that I feel like as a self-proclaimed writer, everything is just supposed to flow out of me like some sort of prophesy from God. Sometimes I think that’s what people who aren’t writers believe happens. Let me tell you, it doesn’t.
Here’s a typical Supergirl-in-writer-mode experience: Open Word document. Stare at Word document. Check Facebook, MySpace, and Yahoo! Mail. Go back to the still-empty Word document and curse its very existence. Get up from my desk, find someone to talk to. Come back to my desk, stare at empty document. Again check Facebook, MySpace, and Yahoo! Mail. Maybe throw in some blogs as an incentive. Grudgingly go back to document and pen a few (in my opinion) bad phrases. Repeat above procedure until document is made up of lots of (in my opinion) bad phrases. Sit on it for an hour or day depending on the deadline, and edit it. Make it sound slightly better. Send it off and be done.
This tediousness extends to my personal writing. I stare at the document, and then abandon it for something much less scary — like reality TV. I’ve claimed to be writing a book for probably three years now. I haven’t worked on it in months, because I came to a point where the groove stopped grooving and I’m stuck. I have no idea where to go and I’m back to staring at a word document before closing it in favor of The Bachelor or Dancing with the Stars. Or I blog, because that feels like a much easier goal to attain than a 200 page book.
So, some astute readers may say…what’s the point. If you don’t like doing it, why do you do it? Or more bluntly, find a new career honey, this obviously ain’t your thang.
Well, I thrive on the end result. On seeing my words and phrases in an organization’s printed or electronic materials. Coming up with that rare witty line that makes me believe in myself. My life’s dream is to have a book published. (And to have people tell me how witty and fabulous it is.) So that’s why I keep writing, because I get such a high from the final product. Most people could care less with what people think about the sentences they write in a letter or some boring work report. But me? I live and die by those same sentences. If someone criticizes them, I fall to pieces. If someone bows down before their splendor, my ego exults from on high.
I haven’t quite figured out how to combat this hatred of the process, and unfortunately, there’s no way I can work around it. In my career, I have deadlines. That’s really the only thing that saves me there. But I’ve learned I can’t self-impose deadlines on myself in my personal writing; my excuses and love for trashy TV will just blow right through them. So I really need to figure out another way to get past it, otherwise, I’ll never get that book written (much less published!) and my ego will never reach divine heights.