I read this and this this morning, and it made me want to write something on my blog about it. A lot of this has been inspired by the fact that I badly need some new trainers and I’ve run out of people to do it for me. I may not mean it all tomorrow.
I should probably change the name of my blog to ‘every now and again I lie a little’ or something like that. I haven’t written in my diary since late September either. Just testing, really – wondering if I would forget my life, or it would become less significant for being unrecorded.
Nothing bad happened. The things I do and think about are no more or less important for having been written down. I am precisely the same as every other human being: my experiences and reflections on them are at the centre of my own universe, and at the periphery of other people’s. So the free-floating anxiety I might have pinned down to the idea of writing being important should have vanished. It has, more or less.
So far, so good. An experiment worth doing. I’m not bowed under the heavy misunderstanding that my writing is or should be important to anyone other than me. That I need to write it down at all. And I am not writing less for thinking this, but more.
I have the same inner critic Roger talks about in his post – but I don’t think this inner critic is exclusive to writers. She talks to me more often and most audibly when I am trying to have conversations with other people, or choosing clothes, or making a decision about curtains or wardrobes. She’s easiest to ignore when I am writing.
Anxiety in the face of unimportant choices – the sense of there being a right thing to do, and the thing done is Not It – is something I write about very often. Social nervousness or incompetence is one of my pet topics. David suggests that anxiety, in particular the kind that blooms around his own writing, is important, that it creates a sense of hyper-awareness that is essential to being creative – an awareness of whether something is ‘good’ or not. This anxiety, (I think this is what he is saying) makes him into a writer and a reader, a creator and a critic, all at the same time.
It doesn’t make me into a sparkling dinner guest or a natty dresser, that’s for sure.
I wonder if anxiety around writing is the same as anxiety about everything else, and just as un-useful? If it is an over-awareness of an imaginary audience, a kind of stage fright brought on by the assumption that making things up and writing them down is an important thing to do? So what if it isn’t good, or no-one reads it? When it becomes important, for me, it gets stuck. When it is playing and I am only pleasing myself, this thing called ‘flow’ happens and I am more calm and content than I am when I am doing anything else. The inner critic whispers justifiably over things like punctutation and spelling, but because I can fix these things when I can be bothered, she is easily ignored.
I like doing the writing and I’d like to be good at it, and I’d like other people to read what I’ve written down – but as for what it is I write, how I decide to put the words in front of the other, what the characters do, if do plots or not, what happens between the first pages and the last and what ‘good’ and ‘better’ mean – it is all for pleasing myself – an arrogant kind of playing – anxietyless.
Unlike with colons and curtains, tennis-shoes and wardrobes, I can’t get the writing wrong because I’m writing the rules as well as playing the game. Other people can read and make their own judgements, decide how well they like my rules, but then the flow is gone, it isn’t my book or story anymore, and I am more interested in something else.