Though I do whine a lot about writing on this blog, I tend to keep my personal grief to myself most of the time. However, I just had to throw this out into cyberspace. I don’t know if it’ll help anyone, but I just want to show you the key I used to escape from perdition. Sheer agony. Ugh. Anyway. For the past couple of days, I’ve been wallowing in excruciating pain at trying to produce works of art that I could deem ‘adequate’ and failing miserably in the process. Why was this happening? I was putting in so much effort! I was trying so hard. Mummy, I tried so hard, why won’t they give me a ribbon? Why do the other children get ribbons, and my chest is left so bare and barren and empty? Mummy?
Turns out, trying to hard, thinking too much, as I wrote was the problem in and of itself. I used to write on the fly, stirring whatever sludge I had in my subconscious and letting it explode onto the page. Of course, very little of that was magical, but at least is was fun. And today, as I wrestled with a story, trying to keep a smile upon my face but with a scowl darkening my heart, I re-read an old story of mine, and I realized how much better it was compared to the stilted, unnatural prose I was currently writing. It hit me rather suddenly, one of those moments where you’re so astonished at your own stupidity you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I mean, I had just spent weeks torturing myself for absolutely no reason, convincing myself that suffering was a necessary component of becoming a better writer. I was losing hope, I was falling into despair, the clouds were looming in my vision, and I just couldn’t understand what was wrong. I was putting in more effort! I was thinking about each and every sentence before I crafted it, making sure they were interesting, started differently, elegant, each word polished and bright as a new penny. Too bad this meant all I ended up with at the end of the day was a mound of tawdry fool’s gold.
I’m typing this very late at night, and I don’t know if this will help anyone in any way, but I’d really like to share my experience so somebody else doesn’t have to experience the same agony for hours on end. And this is what I have learnt: Don’t think! No, seriously. At least when it comes to artistic endeavors, and according to my experience, it’s better to just let your subconscious go wild and vomit all over the page, and clean up and tidy the mess later in a semblance of art. Once I loosened this knot in my mind, and let me subconscious take over, just placing my fingers to the keyboard and letting rip whatever was inside me, something strange and sad and lovely appeared, something I never could have written, let alone had the idea for, if I hadn’t just told my brain to shut up and let my intuition or heart take over. So. If there’s anything you can get from this rushed and random post, it’s not to overthink things and let it flow and let your subconscious bubble over onto the paper. If you try to fight against the creativity, if you don’t just let it pour out of you, well, it’s like tussling with your own shadow. Let your shadow be, let it roam free, let it escape for a little while, let it cavort and dance and play.