Image from ‘You Can With a Camper Van’ website
During the break from the blog, I also took a break from writing. Neither was pre-determined but that’s life: littered with good-intentions. And I’m not the only one.
Today, I culled some email blog subscriptions because now that I’m working full time again, I realise my time is precious and I can’t afford to squander it on scanning an email that I’m always going to delete. But while I was doing this, giving each blog a quick read to decide whether to keep it or not, I discovered that I’m not alone in taking a blog break. In fact, at least half of the blogs hadn’t been updated for months. Quite a few of the latest entries were written last Summer.
And we’ve all done it: started something we’ve never finished or intended to do something and never seen it through. How many of your New Year’s Resolutions have you kept so far? Can you even remember what they were? It’s only March and even though I can remember that feeling – that this time it would be different – I can’t remember exactly what they were.
Maybe it’s laziness or maybe there’s more to it. Maybe we need to have high expectations of ourselves but never quite manage them. To expect more is to hope. If we fulfilled our hopes, would we be satisfied? I don’t think we would because there’s always more we could have done. And that’s not a bad thing – to never be satisfied. When you’re satisfied, you have nothing left to hope for because you already have everything. And what is life without hope?
Besides, when it comes to writing, I believe you need a break every now and then. Before I slipped into the break, I was forcing the words. I knew what I was writing wasn’t working but I kept pushing because ‘writers write’ and you just need to be disciplined, right? Well maybe, but maybe not. Not always, anyway. The thing you need to remember, and that I’m consistently forgetting, is that you’re not in control. You don’t decide when you’re going to receieve the idea or what it will be. You don’t decide what your characters’ voices will sound like or what they will tell you. You don’t decide when they will reveal something they’d kept hidden – if you could, you’d know it all at the start – it would certainly make writing easier. Writing isn’t creating, it’s discovering. And if something isn’t working, no amount of discipline will make it.
Maybe not everyone needs to take a break in these situations. Maybe some people can recognise when something isn’t working, straight away, find out why and proceed in a way that does work. But I think I’m just too stubborn for that. It takes a while for me to admit I’ve been wrong and even longer to admit to a better alternative. And then there’s always the chance that the alternative won’t work out. And it probably won’t – one road won’t lead you to your destination, or even one mode of transport, – but it will take you further. All you can do is try. And maybe you don’t end up taking the fastest or most straightforward route, but if you get close enough to sense where ‘there’ is, in the end, does it matter?