All clear on the mental front.

13Jan13

I suppose I could start off by talking about why this blog has been silent for so long, but the truth is that none of the surface reasons are that interesting. At one point it was a long delayed (and possibly never coming) culmination post on the Batman: TAS reviews I’ve done, but that stopped being an issue some time ago. The real problem is a steady accumulation of inertia.

I’m not a professional writer, and I’m not that prolific in private correspondence either. That means I usually treat “writing” as a grand, important thing. Never mind that the audience for it is literally myself, maybe some followers on social networks, and perhaps a few random bots. I’ve long had the idea that I must treat every subject seriously, and give it my full attention!

Then I get bored after half an hour, or feel I’ve made it long enough, and I stop. Not hard to see the contradiction there.

I’m sure part of the problem is that I have trouble isolating myself from the Internet at large. Even now, I have Twitter in another tab, and a Facebook game I need to check the timers of. Never mind that I don’t actually need to check on it, I “need” to keep up with it. That, plus a minimized chatroom…you get the idea. I’m hardly taking my writing seriously if I’m ready to look away from it at any moment.

Still, those just seem like symptoms, not the cause. If it just boiled down to having less surface distractions, I could unplug my router before opening a document, lock myself away from the cats to avoid pet distractions (in theory, that is; they tend to start meowing and scratching if they feel abandoned), and go to town. It’s that simple, right?

Except…I think the real problem is wanting to make my writing important.

That doesn’t mean my writing can’t be important, or that I should treat it as a purely frivolous activity. It’s harder to create, even as a journal entry, than to passively absorb entertainment. But there have been numerous times when I’ve had an idea for a potential post, and seen it founder in my mind because I didn’t think I could get enough out of it. Surely no one would want to read some random thought that was too long for Twitter, but less than 200 words, right? Ignoring all the times that people do, of course. No, in my head, I had to make sure I could really make a case out of an idea.

But to what end? I may not be trying to post something new here everyday, but there’s something to be said for posting regularly, even if you can’t post a lot. Waiting until the time is just right, or the perfect idea comes along, is just a way to avoid doing anything. You can put it off by pointing down the road at an ill-defined but surely wondrous future, as soon as you figure it out.

However, success, even on a personal scale, can’t be a tautology. You will never have fortune drop in your lap; even winning the lottery requires buying a ticket. So whenever I’ve thought “I’ll write something really great when it comes to me,” it just meant I didn’t write at all. You have to start somewhere, even if it’s something small and insignificant at the time. What makes it worse is that in a way, I’m living proof of that important first step; it’s been three years since I started to work out seriously to improve my health, and I’m in a much better position than I was then. All it took was going to the gym one day, trying not to die at even something as simple as 5 minutes on a treadmill…and just making sure I came back the very next day. It was probably the hardest thing I ever did regarding my health, and the most important.

It also didn’t help me to read great columns from people close to my age, and simultaneously thinking I could write that well if I had the chance, but knowing I didn’t have the chance because I never wrote. How can you prove you can match someone else if you never show up to compete? Worse yet, is it really my place to compete? As much as I’ve improved myself and my life, I know I’ll never truly be rid of my insecurities, which only makes it easier to hang back and say “When I’m sure. When I know I have a winner.”

I’ll never get better at writing if I don’t actually arrange words into coherent sentences, or at least try to. And I’ll never get a chance to write professionally, in any capacity, if I don’t get used to the idea that I have to write constantly-even if it’s not all the time, it has to be something I do willingly. But even more importantly, I can’t act like I’m on stage already. Would I like to be paid to write? Of course. Should I try to work up to professional standards? Again, yes. But I shouldn’t do that as though talent agents are somehow scouting me out with every errant post, and finding me wanting. I should just enjoy what I can create, do my best to write well in the process, and put it out there. It’s not only healthier for my mental health, it means I have a much higher chance of actually saying something. After all, if I never say anything, my chance of saying something meaningful, important, or even entertaining is nil. All the multitudes of clever or funny thoughts I have mean nothing, if I don’t express them for fear of a negative reaction.

Of course, even if I pour everything out, that doesn’t mean I’ll get anything out of it. And I want to kick myself for reading more than once about how writers need to write, nodding sagely at such advice, and not taking advantage of it. But I can try to improve, starting now. Whether or not I will is another question, but we’ll just have to see. At least I can say today that I wrote something before this long navel-gazing post…which is exactly what prompted it. I dashed off a few impromptu pieces just for myself on my tumblr, and it felt good to express my thoughts online, even if I didn’t have much to say.

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