Tag Archives: avoiding writing

Avoidance

17 Nov

For the past fifteen minutes, I have written at least ten sentences and then immediately erased every single one of them. They were terrible sentences— all of them trite, dull and uninspired.

I’ve gotten up from my desk four times; once to run downstairs to watch the cat stare out the window at the birds snacking at the birdfeeder; another to switch a load of laundry (because those sheets gotta get dry), once to pee, and finally, to bring the portable speaker upstairs so I could play some Spotify music, which I somehow believed would inspire me to write beautiful and moving sentences.

I wake each day with the purest intentions of doing what I love—and often hate—more than anything: write. Yet, for the past year I have found the feeblest of excuses to avoid doing just that. I did start writing my second novel: a shitty first draft of chapter one is actually down on my computer—yet the rest remains sequestered in my head. The story wants to come out, but unfortunately my avoidance gene has been vibrating in high gear as of late.

I’m an expert at avoidance. I’ve practiced it my entire life. I used to do it with not practicing the piano; I did it with not completing assignments in high school and in college. Maybe it’s a form of ADHD—a trait that runs in my family—or maybe it’s a learned behavior. Either way, my brain is wired to tell me that I shouldn’t bother, because whatever I do, it won’t be good enough. That I’m nothing but a big fraud.

So it’s just easier not to try.

I think many of us avoid following our dreams for this very reason. We worry about others criticizing or rejecting us. Society has bombarded us with these unreasonable expectations of what success is—how our bodies should look; what possessions we own; what we should have already accomplished in our lives. Even though most of us are savvy enough to understand the false beauty of the images we see in advertising or social media, we still compare ourselves to that impossible standard. And if we can’t reach that standard, WHY BOTHER?

If I don’t try, then no can tell me I’m not good enough. And while I’ve embraced avoidance as an easy alternative to facing the pain of this imagined rejection, I know in my heart that it will ultimately kill my creative soul.

And so I’ve forced myself to write today. I’ve pushed through the avoidance and spilled out some words, and I feel different now than when I first started. There is a tiny seed of accomplishment growing inside of me—that maybe something seemingly insignificant has grown into something more meaningful. Maybe I’m not a fraud after all—that the voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough is the real liar.

Perhaps it’s not what we accomplish that gives us the real joy, but the process of doing that gets that dopamine going in our brains. Finishing something feels good, but the pursuit of getting there is where the real rapture lies.

Thank you, my dear readers, for helping me get to where I need to go.

On to chapter two!

The view from my writing desk.

Avoidance

24 Aug

Most of you know that I’m writing a novel. So far, I’ve written thirteen chapters and I’ve got to say that most of the time this process is either sublime or excruciating. Today was the latter.  I must have gone to the computer as least five times throughout the day and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get myself to start a new chapter.

So I’ve decided to dive down deep into avoidance and give it up, just for today. Tomorrow I’ll sit down again and see if my muse wants to make herself available once again.

In the meantime, here’s what I saw today in the garden.

aug 24 no. 2 aug 24 no. 3 aug 24 No. 4 aug 24 no. 5 aug 24 no. 8 aug 24 no. 9 aug 24 no. 10 aug 24 no. 11 aug 24 no. 12 aug 24 no. 13 aug 24 no 1 august 24 No. 6 august 24 No. 7

I’ve got to give credit to my lovely mother, Eleanor Winters, as some of the photographs posted here are of her garden. I’d say the proof of her exceptionally green thumb is evident, wouldn’t you?

Thanks, Mom for passing your love of gardening on to me.

Burning Up

18 Oct

Yesterday there was a huge plume of smoke coming from the mountains in front of my house. It’s that dry time of year when the parched hills have again erupted in flames, but that’s about the only thing around here that’s been on fire. I may be sweaty, tired and hot–but I’m certainly not on fire.  I’m completely unmotivated, and I need a change. It’s October, for goodness sake, and summer should be long gone. The days are supposed to be crisp and refreshing by now, and this eighty-plus degree weather around here has done nothing except remind me that California is indeed a desert.

Not only has the sweltering heat increased the fire danger, I also think it’s affected my ability to write. Lately, all of my interesting ideas have simply evaporated.  My brain feels as mushy as a ripe peach that’s been left in a hot car with the windows rolled up—there’s a good chance that it may explode into a sticky, fermented mess at any moment.

Each morning I sit at the computer and brood over what to write, yet I’m as dry as a sandy creek bed.  Even though I wake up energized with unqualified intention to get something written down, the few sentences I do manage to write are unimaginative. Nothing is flowing. I finally get to the point where complete despair sets in and I want to give up. Why bother? I tell myself. Then I start to avoid writing entirely.

I’m at expert when it comes to avoiding writing: I read. I clean. I do laundry. I work. I’m very good at pretending to be busy with the little details of my life. This week, I avoided writing by spending time pouring over cookbooks and turned out several fabulous meals for my family using the slow cooker. My husband was in was in total heaven as I recreated the dishes of his childhood in Oaxaca: Caldo de arrez, Pollo en mole verde, and Abondigas soup. He was happy, the kids were happy, and so was I–at least for a few days, but now I find I’m already bored with this whole cooking thing.

It’s such a conundrum. When I’m not writing, I’m often unhappy because I miss it.  When I am writing, I’m often unhappy because I feel that it’s not up to par.

Savory Albondigas (Meatball soup)

It’s difficult for me to let go of the idea that I always have to be so productive with my writing. The fundamental urge to prove myself is as stifling as the hot winds that fanned the flames on the mountain yesterday. I should just give myself a break for once and not force the process; I need to learn to let it just happen when it’s supposed to happen. As I tell the kids: The soup will be ready when it’s ready.

Like that dry chaparral on the hillsides, I must wait for the perfect conditions to be present; only then it will be my turn to explode into a burst of energy and motivation.  When the time is right, the words will again flow out of me like wildfire and there will be no stopping me.

And if that doesn’t happen, I can always take up knitting.

(By the way, the fire is finally out, and the forecast this weekend is for cooler temperatures, so you may very well be hearing from me again soon…)