I haven’t bothered to check when I last updated. It might just deter me even more so from getting around to writing this. I’m disappointed, right now, in myself. There’s a bit more that I’ve been wanting to do and I, I haven’t done it.
It’s curious, however. I can’t seem to permanently quit this blog. I’ve propped up a blog in the past on shaky handfuls of posts, only to deteriorate over time and fall into obscurity. Yet I can’t seem to let that happen with this one. I feel drawn to keep adding on, no matter how much I’ve let myself get distracted with randomness.
My goal was to write a short story a week for 52 weeks. I haven’t done that. Not close. I have this thing where I start to feel good about something I’m doing, so I’ll run away from it, wheezing from the effort, but not slowing to turn around until I’m feeling awful about myself. I don’t get this part of me. This fear I have.
I find this fear most strikes me regarding writing. Other crap that I dabble with, I’ll forget about it, quit, and not even give a second thought. But when it comes to writing, I constantly feel awful about not doing it.
It’s got to be some sort of sign.
I like to make constant comparisons between what I’m reading and what I think of my own work. Read some Douglas Adams and whine about how I’ll never be as dry and funny as him. Read some Cormac McCarthy and lament how I’ll never have his grasp on setting and creating visceral imagery. Read my brother’s articles and sob about how I’ll never be as insightful or passionate when it comes to my own craft.
I give myself every reason to quit and never start up again. And yet, here I am, X weeks after my last post, and I’ve been miserable every day. I follow all these writing related accounts on Twitter, and they’re constantly full of quotes talking about how writers write because they don’t know anything else. That they write to live. That they write to dream. That they write because not writing would be death. And I’m slowly starting to understand.
I’ve been struggling through a bout of depression this past month or so. Nothing too major, but it’s been there. And I rationalized not writing because of this. “I’m depressed, therefore I don’t feel like writing.”
I’m looking at it wrong, however. I’m not writing, therefore I’m depressed. The more I think about it, the more I live my life and am subjected to my own thoughts and actions, the more I truly believe that writing is my purpose in life. It fits me. I enjoy it. It makes sense.
But then I push it away and try to bury myself under bad habits, mindless distractions, and poor time management, hoping that it will never find me again. But it does. Every time. And the consistency and frequency with which it finds me is increasing. I believe that it’s getting impatient. I’ve waited this long for you, Joe. But you’re seriously going to have to roll up your sleeves sometime soon.
I hear you, writing. I hear you.
I kid you not, just with these few measly words, I am feeling refreshed. A little less mucky. Writing makes me happy. It feels like I’m doing what I am supposed to. Why I continue to get in the way of my own happiness is confusing as fuck. As many books about self help and depression and anxiety and whatever the fuck the magic word is that I think I’ll need, I still am left to my own devices. And I need to be aware that I am not my best friend when it comes to personal success.
The default version of myself, the me that I become when I slap on “autopilot” and crawl into the backseat, is boring. Uninteresting, uninterested, content to skate by on the surface of life. No deep sea diving for that guy.
And that’s gross. When I am able to snap out of that frame of mind and fight my way back into the drivers seat, I am appalled by just how pointless that existence is. I don’t want it! And yet, I find myself constantly slipping back into that mode, blissfully unaware and carefree.
And that’s nasty biz.
So I need more structure in my life. I’ve started small, simply making lists at night of what I want to get accomplished the next day. I find making this lists at night preferable, as nighttime me is chock full of ideas on how to TURN THINGS AROUND OH BOY! While morning me is content to sleep until I have to work. Interesting contrast.
I’ve also vowed to start making challenges for myself. Might have been a little overly ambitious with the 52 stories in 52 weeks, but that’s okay. I forgive and accept myself for that misstep. At least it was a misstep in the right direction. So for now, I aim to give myself little weekly or even daily challenges.
For instance, this week, I challenge myself to not drink. Well, even less than a week, since I’ll be on vacation on the weekend and good luck not having a brew while out of town. But! I aim to avoid drinking until I leave town. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, you’d be surprised at how many days of the week I alter my state in some capacity.
Whether it is through a few beers at night to wind down, or a bowl of weed for the same winding down purposes, I almost never go through a full day or two without imbibing some sort of substance. And that, my friends, isn’t healthy. I don’t know if it’s a reluctance to be hanging out with my sober mind, but I aim to rectify that. I don’t want to feel the need to lean on these quick and easy methods of running away from myself.
So no drinking til this weekend. Tonight, so far so good. I aim to meditate every day, preferably upon waking up. Meditating is something I enjoy and that I know is good for me, but I avoid that like crazy as well. Just like writing. Throw in exercising, and you’ve got 3 of my favorite activities (that are also CRAZY GOOD FOR ME) that I love to avoid on a routine basis. I’m not even kidding when I say how much I enjoy these activities. Even exercising. I love a good run. Yet, there I am on most days, figuring out ways to get out of doing any of them.
Why? Why do I do that? Awh well. Time to change all of that.
Change with more structure. You know, I sit here and I get down on myself (on the few instances where I actually commit to writing) about the quality of my work. It isn’t perfect, so why bother!? I find myself saying. Like the thought of having to edit a first draft of a novel seems laughable to a part of my brain, because it should be best at first.
That thinking, is of course, ludicrous.
One of my great interests is stand up comedy. I love everything about the whole deal. Their mindsets, the way they approach their craft, their commitment to the work…everything. My favorite podcasts are ones with stand up comedians talking to other comedians, because I find it all so fascinating. And one of the things you’ll always hear a comedian talk about is how terrible they were in the beginning.
They’ll mention a set they did in some story they’re telling, and they’ll preface it with “I had only been doing comedy for like four years at the time, so I was pretty awful.” Many, many comedians will be quick to say that it takes years, sometimes up to 10, before you figure it out. Before you find yourself with your feet firmly planted on the ground, knowing how to navigate the terrain.
And I have to ask myself, should I really be upset at myself for not being a perfect writer? How often have I actually done it? Can I say that I’ve even written for a year? Here are these guys who devote everything to the comedy lifestyle, and every single one of them say that you have to suck before you can become okay, be okay before you can even think about being good, etc.
And so it is. I need to hold myself to higher standards. I need to treat myself with respect through my own actions. I need to be honest with myself and realize that if this is what I gotta do, then I gotta do it.