The psychology of writing
This is the second time I write this article, after losing the whole piece in a flash due to a technical error. I’ve overcome the tears and frustrations of losing a big piece of work, that is so dear to me, I just couldn't let untold. So here it is.
As I sit down to write this article I know for sure that this will be a moving piece, a perpetual work in progress. The more I write about writing, the more writing ideas will come to me. And i embrace them but I am also scared of them. Will they keep coming? How will i capture them? Why are they developing so rapidly, with so much force? I am not an experienced writer, what do I do with all these ideas that my mind is bringing out?
The psychology or process of writing, in other words what goes through my mind as a write is very interesting to me and I have thought about it many times. I feel very conflicted as my mind pendulates from excitement to feelings of contentment to abandonment and remorse. It also oscillates between content and form, in other words, between wanted to dive deep to uncover and express the philosophical nature of my thoughts and the stylised way in which seek to convey them.
I love writing and it’s the only artistic endeavour I feel confident to practice. I have acknowledged the benefits of writing in many articles before, like An ode to blogging, The café-writing affair, Keeping a Diary or How not to Free-wheel on the Time Carousel, Let’s write, Piano and writing: a tale of two partners.
For me, writing is therapy. It’s the thing that helps me relax, reflect, get things out of my mind, but also to explain them to myself in the process. I love hearing my inner voice as i pour my thoughts out. It mentally stimulates me at the same time.
However, for me, the writing act is the hardest to start. Whenever a good writing idea comes to my mind, I feel somehow overwhelmed and fearful that I won’t be able to capture it in all its majestic glory. It’s the fear of starting on the wrong path.
Many thoughts go through my mind as I write. I start by being excited at the idea of producing new and interesting content. So, I write feverishly the first few sentences, under the spell of the fresh thoughts that come to me. As I do this, an avalanche of more and more ides flood my mind, some only remotely related, which may distract me from my original intention and chain of thoughts. That’s how my writing evolves and metamorphoses itself into something bigger and quite different than originally planned. I feel overwhelmed by the thoughts that come my way and fearful that I won’t put them into the right words.I find it astonishing that as I sit down to write I have little to no ideas and then, as soon as I start writing, ideas start spark off each other like fireworks. I feel like my writing progress as one idea stems from another. I am not able to capture them all, just like with fireworks you can only see the contour or bits of them all.
I never seem to write out of ideas, but it pains me when good ideas slip my mind. This is what deters me from starting a big writing piece. Even if it’s a dull subject, once I start, I can write and write. Every writing I seek out to do becomes grandiose in my mind. Which makes me anxious. Will I be able to deliver it in its grandeur and contour it like it’s meant to take shape? When I start writing, I get so caught up in it, I just can’t stop.
So, the other thing that puts me off writing is the fear of not being able to stop. I am concerned that I am going to be consumed by the story that will take shape from my original idea. This is another reason why I find writing mentally exhausting. It takes a lot out of me and it often makes me hungry and restless. The mental intensity required to identify and process my thoughts is so big, that I feel I need superpowers to get them materialised on paper.
Another reason why I tend to stop when I have too many ideas is because I want to have something to come back to, so I don’t want to exhaust my ideas in one go. That’s justifiable in a way, as maintaining that writing flame burning will ensure we write everyday, as we’ve learnt from an experienced writer in this podcast episode.
I often wonder what do writers think about when they write? The next thing they are going to write about? Or, do their have their ideas already fully fleshed in their minds and are simply pinning them on paper?
That is why, I long to write but I hardly ever do so. Most of the time, as soon as I have a great ideas, my mind seeks an escape, so it resolves to indulging into easy shallow work. And then I regret it. The sense of regret I experience when another day (especially free day) goes by and I don’t write is so profound that it hurst more than the deepest cuts.
I am envious of the writers that I follow who manage to produce content regularly. I feel like I am so behind them and have to play catch up, but they are so advanced in their writing that I will never get there. I really admire writers who wake up every day and manage to smash their daily word count before anything else. I wish i could do that. I often thing about writing, particularly when I wake up early and i feel ahead of the world, but something stronger than my intention stops me from doing it.
I don’t take myself seriously as a writer and I don't even think of myself as a writer. I don’t think I have a particular writing style. I just like to play with words, find synonyms in order to portray my thoughts elegantly. But at the same time, I write from the heart. my writing is honest, raw and everything I write I experience deeply. Writing is the most innocent thing about my being. That’s probably another reason why I leave many of my thoughts unborn, unwritten.
I just want to write. Everyday. All day. The idea of having a big chunk of time free to do my writing sounds blissful to me. I look forward to writing anytime and anywhere: in the comfort of my home in the crisp hours of the morning or in the peaceful hours of the night, throughout the day when I am in transit on the train during my commute to work or in a cafe, in a park, on holiday by the beach.
Writing brings me so much joy when I do it, I don’t need any external stimuli (like money, appraisal, rewards, peer pressure) to power me through. It’s more than a hobby though, it’s something that I am always thinking about and longing to do, even though I don’t do it enough, or as much as I would like to. It’s the little flame that’s always burning, even though I leave it unattended most of the time and sometimes burn it down with distractions. It still flickers.
Writing is so accessible that it can be done anywhere. It required no special tools or setting, just a pen and a paper. It is virtually free. just like the best things in life. But it’s the mere limitless of writing which limits me from doing it. I need boundaries to create writing structure and discipline. When I have too much free time, even though I intend to write, I end up distracting myself with other things which deplete my mind from the mental intensity required to write. But when I have a bit of time I may accomplish a bit of writing.
But when I write I am my most content. I feel majestic. Like a creator who knows it is accomplishing its mission. I feel like I am doing the right thing, what I am meant to be doing. I feel resourceful and empowered by my own mind.
Writing brings me hope and I feel it elevates me. My main goal in life is to write a book. I don’t know when. I don’t have a plan for this, it’s just a lifelong ambition, my ultimate goal. It’s not why I write primarily. I am not looking to practice for book writing or to curate thoughts for it. I write because it brings me inner peace and satisfaction. It gives me a purpose and a long lasting legacy to myself.
I am my most happiest when I write and I hope I will aways have the desire and interest to write. I dedicate one of my five glorious hours to writing and it feels the most glorious of them all: more glorious than reading a book, exercising, learning a foreign language or writing the piano. Why? Because what I write is my inner creation. I am not passively consuming someone else’s content, but creating it for myself.
Once I get into the rhythm of writing, I feel content. I love the juicy flow of good ideas, which stem from one another. That’s when creativity starts. To live and to write, what a sublime luxury.
Leave a comment
Please note, comments must be approved before they are published