Back to Jack

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I'm in a creative funk. Still writing for work, yes (a salary is SUCH a motivator!), but at the end of the day, I struggle to muster up the mojo to come up with any other writing. As luck would have it, I have agreed to contribute to a project, and I don't know whether it's fear or intimidation (well, probably a bit of both), but I've not been able to write a solitary word of my contribution yet!!

So I've decided to give The Jack(squat) Project another go.

In an odd coincidence, the next prompt in Jack's book reads: Acknowledge that writing is hard. Write it down.

Hahaha. Okay, Jack, you clown. Here it is: WRITING IS BLOODY DIFFICULT AND I HATE IT.

All right, I don't really HATE it. For some reason I feel compelled to keep doing it. But I really really wish that I was better at it. I wish I could have had a more literary writing style. But whenever I attempt to write anything that the literati would approve of, it invariably ends up sounding hopelessly trite and contrived.

So, yes Jack. Writing is really, REALLY difficult for me.

The rest of the prompt says: Then write about how you are going to make writing happen.

Well, I have no choice but to write every day. (See above about getting paid being a great motivator.) So I do it to keep the coffee cup filled and the modest roof over my head. But yes, I love it too. It's my passion. The thing I do best (even though I often feel that my 'best' is far from adequate. Mediocre, on good days.) So unless my respective bosses come to their senses and promptly fire me, I HAVE to write every day. But even during those days in the past when I didn't get paid to do it, I still felt compelled to resort to it again and again.

But anyway, if we take my work related writing out of it: How am I going to make the non-work related writing happen? Well, I'm making it happen right now, aren't I? I am SO not in the mood, but I've decided to turn to you for inspiration, Jack. Besides, I know from (rare) experience that, on those days when I LEAST want to write, but still force myself to do it, I sometimes come up with my better ideas. Almost as if I'm being rewarded merely for making the effort.

Sometimes, when the blank screen in front of me is just too intimidating, I dash off a quick e-mail to a friend. It's almost as if the act of typing helps to kickstart my 'writing rhythm'. I've never been one to freestyle it. I can't just sit down and type a stream of consciousness. I have always had this horribly limiting and annoying habit of editing myself as I go along. It's a mental barrier, and no matter how often I have tried, I simply can't overcome it. Okay, admittedly, I don't edit myself sentence by sentence when I'm typing an e-mail to a friend, because well, I suppose I always have something to say to my friends? And I strike a more conversational tone, therefore it flows more easily. Also, I'm not scared of what they will think of the e-mail, because (hopefully!) they won't be subjecting me to literary critiques. (And if they do, then I need new friends!) So I suppose, when I'm really stuck, I should surprise someone in my address book with an unsolicited e-mail. Yes, I sometimes still write actual letters too (those quaint, old-fashioned kinds that you actually send by POST, can you imagine?), but since I type those anyway (I write too painfully slowly by hand - thank you, Dyspraxia), I just resort to e-mail.

Okay, next part of the prompt. (Yes, still not done. This Mr. Jack Heffron is a regular slave driver, so he is!) How will you find the balance in yourself to combine willpower with relaxation, stubborness with joy? Write about how you've struck this balance in the past, with writing, sport (HAHAHAHAHA! Jackie... you SO don't know me at all), a musical instrument - anything you've done.

Willpower? MOI? But oh, the relaxation I have no trouble at all with! Okay, okay, seriously: I don't really know. As I've said, for some reason I have always felt compelled to subject myself to this torturous activity almost daily. It certainly helps that writing is one of my great passions. (Yes, apparently I'm a masochist.) It doesn't help that I am my own worst enemy and critic. (But if most of my other how-to books on writing are to be believed, that dastardly inner critic and bouts of fear, inadequacy and perpetual writer's block seem to be common afflictions among scribblers. Unless of course they are lying through their teeth.)

As for balance? I don't have a balanced life. I spend most of my days (happily) working.

I hope that answers your prompt, Jack, because that's all I have for you tonight.

ALL THIS, AND I STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M GOING TO WRITE FOR THE PROJECT! Shouldn't you be fired for that, Jack?!? After all, this book of yours is called The Writer's IDEA Book...  

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is a South African girl living in South Africa. That doesn't sound very original, we know, but you might find it remotely interesting when you learn that she has only recently returned to South Africa for the first time after a nine year, one month and two week (non-stop!) stint in the United States where she accidentally became an outlawed alien (also known, especially in immigration circles, as an 'illegal immigrant.' We prefer the term 'outlawed alien' ourselves). During her reversed exile from her homeland, she kept herself occupied by winning this website (but only after shamelessly bribing the judges) and thus being unleashed on the web where she slowly, leisurely became the World's Laziest Blogger; by being a nanny and by attending sci-fi conventions in search of other aliens. In the US, she also made her sailing debut, her international acting debut, tried and failed to learn the piano, and never learned to cook. She is hopelessly addicted to coffee, dogs (especially Labrador Retrievers), how-to books (with a particular fondness for her copy of the Time/Life A - Z Medical Encyclopedia), and she tends to grossly overuse parentheses (we're not kidding) during her attempts at writing, which you may - if you really have masochistic tendencies - subject yourself to by reading the words to the right of this column. If you REALLY and truly STILL want to know more, you can read her C.V. here.
Or you can stalk her send her some love via e-mail at: redsaid[AT]gmail[DOT]com

The Wish List (Because yes, she really does need more how-to books. Honestly!)


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