When it’s impossible to write


There are few things in life worse than sitting in a chair in front of a huge mirror, in an über cool place full of über cool people, getting your hair cut, being asked questions that you can’t answer because your chin is on your chest and if you move one iota you could mess up the scissoring, or cutting, or whatever the technical term is these days for hair cut and style work.

However, there is an agony equal to that agony: sitting in a chair with your mouth wide open so that your dentist can use all those cleaning tools and his assistant can get that sucking thing in your mouth at the same time. I don’t know about you, but my mouth is not that big, you know. Am I the only one who thinks dentistry is the last approved bastion of medieval torture?

Regardless of whether it’s for a haircut or clean teeth for me, sitting still in a chair is not an innate skill: it’s a practice and a discipline. I don’t particularly like it. I’m just practiced. And yet every once in a while, when it comes to sitting still to do that work I have to do it seems my body and my mind forget that I know how to do it. It becomes painful, and agony equal to the other hair cut and dentist sitting-still-in-chair agonies. I sit at my computer and immediately monkey mind and restless body kick into gear and I can think of a million other things I could be doing and about 20 that I want to do, none of which involve sitting.

It’s hard to say which comes first: monkey mind flitting around that prevents me from sitting for too long, or a physical restlessness that teases monkey mind. Of course that’s a classic distraction technique: it doesn’t matter which came first. I can’t sit and do the work of writing. And standing doesn’t help either. (Pronounced EYE-THER).

But now there’s a deadline looming. I’ve digested all the research I possibly can. It’s time to write but oh, no. There are other things I need to do:  create a playlist for the big even coming up, talk to the dogs, play with the bird, go to the store, vacuum.

The deadline will still be there when I get back.

I might have to make peace with the fact that for this week and for these articles, I’m not quite ready to write. When it’s this much of a fight, when it’s this impossible to get my derrière into a chair to write what I have to write, I have to wonder about it; if I’m quite ready to write. And if I wonder too much and ask the question, I only have to look at all of my false starts. I might be ready to write nonsense, or anything else, but I am not ready to write what I get paid to write.

It’s breaking all the rules to say I’m going to step away from the computer. But it’s self-defeating to stay in a loop of writing that’s not working. Leaving it for a bit can do wonders for clearing a mind.

Over the years I’ve sensed a difference between the hard work of writing and a forcing of what’s just not coming. Sometimes, I can break through by writing a few pages which somehow manages to lead to the writing I need to do. Other times, it’s not like that at all and I need to leave it for a while longer.

So if my derrière, together with my writing mind, is not ready to be glued to a chair today, so be it. Time to play with the dogs, talk to the bird, shop for dinner and try again tomorrow.


About FS

Toronto, Canada. Writing about slices of life, the moments and minor details of which come into awareness or out of imagination and the spaces inbetween.
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