Pissing in the Face of Attrition

I don’t want to call anybody lazy, but there’s many of you out there, myself included from time to time, who like to put off writing for lack of inspiration. It’s a terrible word, one that usually puts a great strain on the conditions we imagine we must meet to be able to write, or at least to be able to write anything well. I mean I get it, you want to have the right music, the right time of day, silence, noise, drink, coffee, drugs, sobriety, post-coital, etc. etc. etc., and then when it all comes down to it it becomes too easy to say you’re uninspired and just go on doing all of the things you do to fill the time between paragraphs.

Maybe this is you. I’m sure it’s most of you. I know it can be me. I’d probably have more books out if it weren’t. But this isn’t about my laziness, this is about yours.

Writing takes discipline, sure. Just like anything, you’ve got to slog through metric fuck-tons of shit to really find something worthwhile, but when you do, when you’ve peeled away the layers of fraud and pretentiousness, the pseudo-intellectual, impotent, hyper-masculinity, the over-compensating, the grandiose, the real bullshit, when you finally dig to the bottom of that pit you might find something real. And then you’ve got to edit it.

It’s a horrible process, I’m still not really sure why anybody does it. I don’t think any writer really enjoys writing. But life feels a bit more aloof (charmingly) once it’s been done and I can’t stand to be away from it too long or I get restless.

Starting is usually the hardest part, though, so what I do when I’m having trouble is I start describing what’s happening around me, my setting the people, what I notice. It doesn’t have to be poetic. You will learn that every line you write doesn’t have to be revelatory. But beware you don’t start too many poems smoking a cigarette or in a coffee shop (guilty).

That usually gets the verbial gisms flowing, but if that doesn’t work it often helps to do something you wouldn’t normally do or to do something mentally uncomfortable. Like trying to meet people. It’s prime misery to be plucked up for your creativity. The strange nuances of social interaction, the way you feel when you’ve met someone before and seen them so many times you’re too embarrassed to ask what in the hell their name was. Too far gone, too far committed to mediocrity.

Writing is a lot like that. Don’t commit to mediocrity, and don’t be afraid to ask the questions you forgot you knew.

Sure you’re bound to look like a bit of a dolt, but you’ll be a knowledgeable dolt.  And knowledge is the key. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know what you once knew. From there writing is easy if you find the willpower to keep doing it. It’s never hard, only time-consuming and miserable.

If you can keep a regimen, even a shell of one, you’re putting yourself many steps ahead of your peers who probably like the idea of being a writer more than actually being one. Writing is a labor of love and necessity. None of us do it because we expect to make loads of money or to achieve fame or fortune. Perhaps in our field amongst our peers we are hopeful to find respect or appreciation, but beyond that we can only hope for bread in our mouths and shirts on our backs and wheels on our cars so that we may make it to work on time each day.

This is what life is for many of us. There is nothing, but to keep pressing forward, hoping to incite something in the hearts of those willing to read.