I have forgotten how to write. Again. Not for any dramatic reason, I don’t think, but because, like any muscle, when it becomes underused it starts to get thin and wobbly. I have stop-started a post on Half of a Yellow Sun (an excellent book) over on my book (sort of) blog about three times this week which has been an immensely frustrating process that has stuttered to a halt about two paragraphs in. Annoying. So, I thought maybe if I wrote something over here I could get things moving again – plus, I was reminded of the value of writing things out of your head in a blog post by a friend that I read recently.
I have written countless times about why writing is important to me. About how it feels like a way I can explore thoughts and tip them out of my head. About how I enjoy hearing the words as I string them together and, perhaps, recognise comprehension in them over poetry. About how writing has been a transformative process for me – one in which I found a voice and, once, a community.
I have, however, not really written anything properly for months and months and months, nor been particularly inspired to write anything – and the waiting has made me feel stuck. Disempowered. As with so many things in my life, I have been waiting for something to happen to me to make me write. I have seen it as something that is out of my hands, something reactive rather than proactive. And, I have seen barriers before opportunities – a thousand things that I don’t have the authority or skill to write about.
My boyfriend has a very interesting and contrary approach to writing and, life in general. He talks about working on things, a concept that I am embarrassingly unfamiliar with. I have, historically, believed that you either have it or you don’t. That skills are talents, bestowed upon us, should we be lucky enough…but not things that can necessarily be acquired.
He does not, I think, agree. He believes that you can acquire skills, perhaps even talents, through hard work. Through practice. Through trying different things. Through some level of commitment. And that this can be applied to anything – from writing to acting, to learning how to design a website to, I imagine, hitting a tennis ball well.
And of course he is totally right –
And this approach is quite liberating. It means that things that seem impossible now might not be impossible in the future. It provides permission to break things down into steps towards something rather than jumping to the end result, as I have a tendency to. It gives you – me – some of the power back.
I am not scared of hard work – but I do forget that it can take place out of the office and around things that I might not currently excel about or have a natural flair for. And I do forget that I get to choose what I invest my time in, what I want to work for. Currently, writing is at the top of my list but there’s lots of things that I’ve considered doing and written (!) off that perhaps I could now re-consider –
Which, for the first time in ages, makes me feel excited rather than stuck.