the constipated writer

I have friends who can write as easily as I can open a can of Coke. A friend of mine has a blog in which she explores the nuances of her job,  and I must say that she is able to articulate her insights clearly and seemingly effortlessly. Reading her blog, I noticed that: (1) we share many opinions, and (2) in matters regarding which our opinions differ, I know exactly where I stand BUT I don’t know how to begin presenting my position.

For some time now I’ve known that I’m the kind of writer that takes painful effort to produce anything worth reading. There may have been times in which I was able to write spontaneously, but those instances have been so isolated that if I had allowed this blog to grow out of them, it probably would’ve taken me a year to produce ten entries.

I have no problems writing reports and papers that are technical and/or academic in nature, and I believe I can even be keen at distilling data to come up with plausible written outputs. Analyze a graph? Explain the merits and the demerits of a proposed policy? Draft a project proposal? Churn out an evaluation of a community education program? No problemo! But tell me to write a story about a pencil and a chair and I’ll spend a week sweating over it before turning in material that my four year-old niece would probably scoff at.

Thinking about it now, perhaps it’s the creative juice (read: imagination!) and the organizing skills that I really lack. I am able to write about things, ideas and insights that I already know, but I struggle at inventing. I can articulate thoughts that I have already processed thoroughly in my head and I can clearly convey actual experiences, but if you tell me right now to ponder seriously (for the first time) and discuss in writing what I have to say about the Philippines’ relationship with China especially in view of the contention about the Spratly Islands, I’ll probably come up with a line or two at best. Whatever thoughts on the matter that may have crossed my mind have done so sporadically, and it would take me ages to produce anything sensible out of them.

Then again, this is exactly why I decided to have this blog. I have to force myself to think, to process, to imagine, to organize…and to keep writing. Since the blog is online, my promise to write and write has been made public, thus I feel more beholden to keep my commitment. And since nobody I know is reading it, I’m able to write whatever and however I want without the distraction of self-conscious thoughts.

Regardless of my apparent constipation, then, I’ll just keep pushing (graphic double-meaning unintended).


2 thoughts on “the constipated writer

  1. Ah! Those self-conscious thought are the killers! When you just let it all hang out without stopping you find those gems. Beware thinking thoughts such as ‘I must write this chapter with young women in mind’ or ‘I will aim for light-hearted humour’ or ‘literary genius’ or ‘a seat-of-the-pants page-turner’. When you think along these lines you’re not feeling the drama as it unfolds in your head (and your heart, hopefully). It’s a common problem. Happens to all writers at some point I’m sure. Especially these days when the book stores favour best-sellers. I must get back to my fast-paced thriller . . .

  2. So true, Maree! I actually try to keep my thoughts off the “P” word (“publish”!) so I can just focus on improving my skills, learning to write from the gut and producing good material, period. For now I just want to enjoy writing and to enjoy seeing my work get better. I don’t want the additional stress and complication of wanting to be the next bestselling author. Or maybe I do, eventually, but I’m not giving myself any deadline!

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