I believe that everyone who writes professionally and has a full time job has this issue with writing on a personal level. We just don’t have the time or energy or willpower for it. So the passion suffers, and then the work suffers because the passion is suffering. It’s a chicken and egg scenario, really. We work because we have to pay bills and we’re tired after juggling life’s expectations around, and we don’t fuel the passion, which fuels good or better work. Finding the balance always feels impossible.
One of the reasons why I started this blog thread of the War of Art is simply because work and passion always feels like a war, and it’s always with one side having a little more power or advantage than the other. Sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s passion. But it’s always a war. The scales are never balanced and one side always has power until the passion dries out and thus begins the cycle of creative burnout…
I wrote about 600 words on a flight three weeks ago. Never finished it, never published it, and to be totally honest, I don’t even remember where I was really going with it. So often I feel alone in this war, but then a quick scroll through my Twitter reminds me that I’m not the only non-writing writer in the world, and the writing world is full of non-published or half-written manuscripts full of potential and possibly even worthy of the best-seller title. But the fear is real. The fear of your words being on display… the fear of judgement… the fear of exposure.
Have you ever felt so exposed that it cripples you? That’s how I feel about my writing work. I’m very lucky that I am a multi-faceted creative, so I design and code for work mainly, and writing is part work, but mostly personal and therapeutic for me. I can sit staring at a blank Scrivener page for hours, just paralysed by the fear of taking off my skin and everyone seeing the flaws. Writing for me feels exposing, versus hiding behind my graphic design, which speaks for itself and I don’t have to work as hard on it. Well, I do, but it doesn’t feel like that because design work is much more fulfilling immediately, and satisfies those instant gratification centres in my brain while I watch the blank canvas bloom into brightly coloured creative genius. Every click, every layer, feels like progress, but with writing, every word feels heavier, one step closer to personal judgement.
I’m always ever so grateful for my writing gift. But it’s so much more than just a gift or a career tool, it’s also my way of personal therapy and charity. Writing has always been an outlet for me, along with painting, but often, I need something to paint, almost like a task, whereas with writing, I can just open Scrivener and “talk”. It’s like having a chat with your best friend, or sister; calming, therapeutic, but exposing and nude. I’ve never really been much of a fiction storyteller, although, my work is based entirely on storytelling. A story of someone else, going through something that I can remotely relate to, doesn’t do it for me. But sitting here, typing my vulnerabilities, and signing my name at the end, that helps and it adds credibility to the story too.
I do hope that my experiences and the way I dealt with my trauma could be helpful to someone, somewhere, someday. And if I can help ONE person other than myself, or give hope to someone, with my words, then I’ve achieved that goal. So I battle the mental paralysis and get the words out of me, so that I can help that one person.