It shouldn't, right? I mean, I love writing. It's what I want to do with my life, in some way or another. So why is it so hard for me sometimes?
Is it just because I'm lazy? Or is it because I'm afraid?
Sometimes I think it's both.
There are days where I sort of feel the urge to write, but I'm distracted. I keep thinking of other things I could be doing—or other things I should be doing. Being a student clashes with being a writer sometimes. I want to sit down and work on a piece, but all I can think about is that research paper I should start. Or finish. Or perfect. Or the video I need to watch so that I can answer those questions over it that will be discussed in class. Or the book I should be reading in case of a pop quiz. (Or how I'm so tired of doing homework and reading for school that during my free time I just want to throw myself onto the couch, switch on the TV, and mentally vegetate for a little while...)
I know education is important. If I didn't think that, I sure wouldn't be putting so much money, time, effort into it. I want that degree, don't get me wrong. But sometimes, especially when it concerns busy work, or work that I see as absolutely irrelevant to the things I want to do in my life (*coughMATHcough*), it's really hard to justify stifling a creative urge to look up congressional election statistics.
But other times, I think homework or laziness or lack of inspiration are just excuses. Poor, pitiful little excuses made up by a person who doesn't really want to admit to being afraid.
It's like I expect to never write garbage. Not ever, not any time. And that's just not feasible. Or realistic.
Brings to mind Ernest Hemingway's famous quote—
"The first draft of anything is shit."
I don't always believe that's true, but at the same time...there's definitely some truth in it. In other words, it doesn't make sense to put so much pressure on myself. It's not like I'm doing something wrong if I don't sit down and spill out a masterpiece in a few hours with no edits.
In a way, I think that's what I love so much about NaNoWriMo. It's one of the few times that the absolute insanity of the deadline creates an excuse in and of itself to not think too much or too hard about what I'm writing and instead to focus o the act of writing itself. To get the idea down, to flesh the story out. Editing is for later.
I've always been told that oftentimes the pieces that end up getting cut out of manuscripts are the pieces that the author loves the most. I never understood how that could be—how a scene or series of events favored by the author could somehow not fit in the story they created.
But you know what? It's true. I found this out myself in a longer piece I'm working on. The section I wrote that I felt was the strongest, that I was the most proud of, doesn't actually fit anywhere in the story. It's kind of mind-boggling, really. It probably sounds just about as crazy (especially to someone who isn't a writer, or who doesn't know any personally) as when I try to explain that just because I created a character doesn't mean I have complete control over what they do. But it's true. If you create a character, give him or her a lot of depth, background, personality, you'll start to find there are things they just won't do. It can be very tiresome when trying to write a scene in which your character just...isn't havin' it. But it happens.
Sidenote: I just watched a really great movie with my Mom over Thanksgiving break. It's called Miss Potter (about the woman who created the lovable Peter Rabbit) and there's a scene in this film that reminds me of what I just mentioned. She's talking to her illustration, which is misbehaving, and she says something along the lines of, "You better stop that, or I'll write you out!"
Anyway, that's the point of NaNoWriMo. To just get the story out, I mean. The idea is that unless you get it written down, you'll never have anything to edit. I'm constantly having to remind myself of that. Because all too often, even if I have the urge to write, if I get the feeling that I don't know where the story is going, or that I'm too tired or distracted to put my whole heart in it, I start to tell myself it's better if I just abandon the idea for the moment. But that's not the case. Some of the better stories I've written have come at times when I'm grasping for inspiration. It's always a very pleasant surprise.
So my advice to any of you out there with aspirations to write and anxieties about when and where to do it—the best methods, the tricks of the trade—would be simply this.
Because if you don't start there, if you don't start with a blank page and pour words out onto it, you'll never have anything. And if you never have anything, you sure as hell won't ever have anything great.