Writing is not a Cure. It’s a Disease.

Sometimes I hear the advice, “Write about it.”

There is a kind of writing that soothes the soul, allowing me to blather on about my unhappiness until I tire of it and go get an oil change.

That is not a productive kind of writing. It is not a writing that generates anything but self-admiration or self-pity.

The kind of writing that produces stories hurts. It’s also fun, but you can’t have the fun parts without the pain. It’s like fight club; it’s always the first night and you have to fight.

I journal a lot, but mostly to avoid complaining to everybody about everything. So I complain to myself, peer down briefly into the depths of my negativity. I get my fix, tag the entry “whining,” and move on.

Is journaling necessary for a writer? Do we have to do this kind of self-analysis? What good does it do?

Maybe it’s just practice, a way to keep the words flowing. One cure for writer’s block is to simply write and write and write without stopping to think about what you’re writing. It’s not the kind of writing that you re-read or mine for ideas. It’s just running laps. You don’t get anywhere.

I wish I could consider journaling a part of the discipline, but usually it’s just a way for me to avoid working on ‘real’ writing. If I need to work out a scene or a plot problem,   I get more benefit from taking a walk or doing the laundry. To stay at my keyboard and keep trying to figure it out is counterproductive.

My days are filled with work; evenings I am tired and don’t produce much. Writing often gets pushed to the weekends. But if I designate an entire day to work on something, I don’t make much progress. I believe that any task can expand to fit the allotted time limits. In an hour, I can produce 1500 words if I’m focused. In an entire day devoted to writing, I’m lucky if I produce 1500 real words.

Sometimes writers need to not write, to get away from words for a while and do things, instead of just writing about them. I have a free-floating anxiety most of the time that tells me that there are not enough hours in a day, that the sand is rushing through the hourglass. I have too many ‘shoulds’ in my life. Though writing is a joy, it’s also one of those obligations.

I need another cure for my anxiety. If I use writing as therapy, my novel sits unfinished. Like an alcoholic, I am tempted to have a drink so I’ll feel better. That hair of the dog will give me the illusion that I’m doing work. My anxiety hovers in the background, whispering, just start writing… you’ll feel better…

Instead, I push my chair back and go for a walk.

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