It’s been a tough old six months for my writing.
I broke up with it.
Then, unsure, I decided on a trial reconciliation, broke up again, stayed depressed on the sofa, became addicted to Facebook, games and morning TV and just generally bummed around feeling bad about myself. Writing had been a part of my life since I was 12 and somehow I couldn’t see me being without it. I couldn’t be with it either. It wasn’t just a case of writer’s block: I knew what that felt like and this wasn’t it. No, I had fallen completely out of love.
I even considered a career change and looked for other ways to make money. But any job I looked at usually required experience and/or qualifications I didn’t have. And then there were the niggling factors of my age and my list of health complaints: neither were exactly going to be working in my favour. Maybe I could retrain? But as what? Everything that looked interesting needed some sort of degree or diploma, and I didn’t have the funds to take another course. Damn! Every door was shutting, except for the familiar old one that bore the name ‘writing’. I realised then that I couldn’t escape it; I needed to work out why I was feeling so jaded, why even just looking at the screen made me want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.
I looked at what I was doing in lieu of writing. It wasn’t exactly edifying. Most of my time was spent on Facebook posting wonderful quotes… often, ironically, about writing. And once I’d put something up, I’d check back regularly to see if anyone had commented or liked it. And if not, why not? Did they not like the status/me?! I’d then read and comment on or like what other people had put, before going and rechecking my page, whether I had any messages or not, putting up another status… And then off I’d go again. If I wasn’t on Facebook, I would take to playing endless rounds of Bubblewitch Saga on King. Talk about mind numbing! Most of the time I’d clicked on a new game without even taking in whether I’d won or lost the last. It was just an easy-to-do set of repetitious movements.
Basically, virtual heroin to make me feel like I was doing something. Anything. As long as it wasn’t writing.
Suddenly seeing it for what it was, I started to wake up to my addictions – and yes, both things had become an addiction as I felt lost without them and felt a physical need to do them to the point I couldn’t think of anything else. I didn’t trust my self-discipline (so strong in the past but now as useful as jelly in a Tug-O-War) to just stay away so I had to take drastic measures (well, not overly drastic – I didn’t delete my account!). I found a great App for the Mac called Concentrate. Basically, for however long you want to focus, you can block all access to certain websites and applications. I blocked the usual suspects plus a couple of others that had wasted my time in the past. I set it for 3 hours.
During that three hours I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. My usual get out clauses had been removed. I was forced to sit face to face with myself and, if not yet reconciled with my creativity, think about it. And I did think. And over the next few disruption free sessions I thought some more. And I came up with a radical explanation – well, radical for me anyway – as to why I wasn’t writing. And I knew it was about to turn all of my expectations on their heads.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about my conclusion…