I get so worried that I won’t be able to come up with anything to write about. This anxiety is most acute when I open up a brand new Word document, I hit the full screen viewing mode so as to block off any other stimuli, and the result, for a second anyway, before I type out the first word, is me staring at this glowing white rectangle, just pure LCD light positioned not even a foot away from my face.
Maybe that’s the source of a lot of my worry, that I have to stare at this screen. Is it any different than staring at a blank piece of paper? I like to think that it’s different, that if I were living ages ago and I made up my mind to write something, that there’d be a lot less pressure for me not to waste my time. If a minute goes by and I haven’t thought of anything to write about, that’s fine, that’s just a minute. But two minutes, five minutes, my eyes are already starting to hurt from staring into this flat screen light bulb.
Ten minutes and I’m starting to sweat. The feeling that I’m getting when I can’t come up with anything is somewhat familiar. I love to draw, but I never really pursued it like I did writing. To a big extent, I was never able to get past that fear of a blank page.
I guess fear is a strong word, I don’t want to come across as dramatic or anything. But even as a little kid, I’d get out my crayons or colored pencils or whatever, I’d lay everything out just right, and then I’d wind up staring at a piece of white, not really sure how to get going. Invariably I’d wind up drawing some version of Spider-Man, a kind of tic, like instead of facing that fear, that feeling like I’m not good enough for the page, I just put down anything.
It’s still one of my go-to drawings, Spider-Man. It’s one with the muscle memory of my right hand. I could probably draw a pretty decent Spider-Man if I were blindfolded. Which isn’t really saying anything, not about drawing, or making anything. It’s just a way of dealing with the fact that a lot of the time I have no idea what I’m doing, or even what I’m supposed to be doing.
I guess writing about not having anything to write about is kind of like the written equivalent of those Spider-Man doodles. It’s a trick that I fall back on way too often. For every one of these posts that make it up on this blog, there are at least five or ten that thankfully never see the light of day. But it’s just something that I have to work through. Often it’s mandated by time constraints. For example, I have to work a double shift at the restaurant today, and so in order to get any writing done, I had to wake up early, sit myself down, commit myself to moving my fingers for a fixed amount of time.
Talk about pressure, I don’t have a moment to stare out the window, let my mind wander. No, I’ve got to get going. If these two hours pass by and I don’t have any work to show for it, it’ll drive me nuts the rest of the day. It’ll make me question whether or not I have what it takes to be a professional writer.
It’s better than nothing, that’s what I have to tell myself about writing like this, that I’d rather have something shitty than nothing at all. And I guess I can live with that, knowing that I at least made use of my time, that I forced myself to sit down and crank out something tangible, something that I can look back on and maybe use as motivation for a future date when I struggle to get words down on the page.
I’ll think, well, I did it then. Certainly whatever I put down now can’t be any worse than that. Right? And that’s something. It’s definitely not nothing. At the very least, whatever happens with the rest of my day, at least I’ve got this.