Writing is both my best friend and my nemesis.
When I write from the heart and the words are flowing, it is cathartic and healing. It is relief and expression and an unburdening of a full spectrum of emotions. It is fun and crazy and entertaining. It is nourishing and refreshing and leaves a feeling of accomplishment and success. It is orderliness and clarity and stability. There is a security to be found when the words are easy.
With life, if I haven’t journaled it, I haven’t properly processed it.
With problems, the act of committing them to paper somehow makes them instantly more manageable, and they may even cease to be problems once I’ve finished outlining them in word form.
With joys, they are recorded forever, waiting for me to pick up and re-read and remember, memories to bask in whenever I want; I no longer have to worry about forgetting them because the words are eternal, captured and chronicled.
Yet when I feel the pressure of a deadline or the pressure to meet an expectation and the words are not there… that is when my nemesis rears its ugly head and writing becomes a chore and an irritating challenge. I don’t know what to say, don’t know if I’m up to it, don’t know how to start or if I’ll be able to pull it off.
The reason this hurts so much and chafes so hard is because when this happens, it takes my favorite form of creative release and holds it captive. The ransom note reads something like this:
Forget about enjoying your craft until you meet this deadline. The ransom to get your mojo back is too steep to think of paying in any form other than prolific and perfect words. So get busy.
I can try to ignore it, allowing a few days to pass without writing. I can pretend I’m not a writer, that my brief foray into writing was just a fling, an adventure for the heck of it, just a temporary dipping of my toes into water that became too cold. I can tell myself that I’ll get back to it someday. That it’s no hurry and the magic will be back tomorrow and I’ll be fine until it returns. That I’ll find other interests.
And with the passing of those few days, my nemesis grows stronger and begins breathing fire. It is a dragon now, clawing his way around my insides, taunting me with evil chuckles and never letting me forget that I need to write. That writers write and authors deal in words, and I have a deadline. Too bad you’re not up to it.
Until finally, I break. I give in. I just start.
And I find that although I had no words, the words came. When I thought I’d dried up and hit a wall and run out of options, they trickled in, finding cracks in the surface and tunneling an alternate route that leads me out of this dark and lonely and frustrating and wordless place. Like the friends they are, they shuffle and grasp and renovate and polish and organize until they have my thoughts and the last few days of silence cataloged and sorted into a place of clarity.
In spite of not knowing, once I committed to starting, once I popped the cork on the bottle, the pressure was released. The dragon went from rumbling to purring, and the words began to tumble out. It must be all be in the starting.
And it makes me think they must have been there all along, that fire inside, fueled by the dragon who is both my best friend and my nemesis. For what is the one without the other?