Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Life Without Writing

I haven't been blogging or writing fiction lately for several reasons. I've always enjoyed writing in coffeehouses and have developed several good scenes and interesting characters there. But lately, the Wi-Fi freeloaders who never buy anything and hog tables for hours have really bothered me, though I know that I should just ignore them. I guess they bother me because they can apparently afford iPads and iPhones but are too cheap to spend a few bucks on a cup of coffee. Because of them, paying customers like me (and as a broke grad student working two jobs, I work hard to afford that cup of coffee) often don't get a place to sit (and write).

So I tried writing at home. But as many of you know, several of my neighbors are pretty loud. The drunk parties, loud music, and Family Guy reruns at top volume grate on my nerves, and one of my neighbors has apparently taken up singing. That wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that she sounds like Miley Cyrus after she's smoked two packs of cigarettes. 

In spite of all that, I've usually managed to get writing done on a regular basis. But lately I've been feeling stressed out and overwhelmed because of work and school, so those inconsiderate jerks didn't make me feel any better. I think that all that is why I've been fighting writer's block lately. I sit down to write and I don't know what to say. I try to write anyway and nothing rings true. I read over what I wrote and I start worrying that maybe Snooki could have written something better.

It got to the point that I felt so discouraged that I considered giving up writing. After all, what if I wrote all these stories and never got published? Or what if the stories did get published and nobody liked them? Was it even worth it? As stressed out and discouraged as I felt, I knew what the answer was.

Writing is worth it. Even if I never get published and even if I did get published but people wrote terrible reviews about me on Amazon.com, the point is that writing still means something to me, and it's not something that I can live without. It made me think about what my life would be like without writing.

If I stopped writing...

1. I might spend my time on something that I never enjoyed and was never good at, like sports, just so I'd have something to do. And then I'd spend the rest of my life running away from the ball.

2. I might spend more time watching reality TV, and then I might start thinking that it really is reality. For example, I might start thinking, "Wow. I hope that if I ever have a daughter, she'll be just like Honey Boo Boo," or "Maybe I should be more like that dance teacher on Dance Moms who yells all the time," or "Why work when I can get paid to wear tight clothes and pick fights with pretty people?"

3. I'd never be able to deal with the fact that in real life, the bad guys sometimes win. They're the ones who get away with crimes that should have put them in jail, or they betray the people who love them and show no remorse for it. But writing fiction gives me a good outlet to deal with people like that, because I can write stories that end the way I think they should have ended, and the bad guys (or girls) lose.

4. I'd have to let go of all the characters I created who have become real to me and who often surprise me with what they say and what they do.

5. I might lose interest in reading, and then I wouldn't get to travel to different places, meet new people, and see them through the eyes of writers that I admire.

6. I might become less observant of the world around me, and then I'd end up missing out on so much of life and the world.

7. I wouldn't have that hope that my dream actually can come true, and that all this work that I've been doing for years really could lead to something good.

8. I wouldn't experience that sense of satisfaction and joy I feel after writing several pages in one session.

So I have to get back to writing more regularly, even if I don't always feel like doing it. I know that I would regret it forever if I were to give up writing altogether.

What about you? What are the reasons that you can't live without writing?

23 comments:

  1. I love your list :) Have you tried the library? Free wifi and quiet. I love to write there :)

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    1. Hi Angela,
      Thanks! That's a good idea. The school libraries are usually noisy because of study groups, people talking on cell phones, and people listening to iPods. But I haven't really tried writing fiction at the public library, so I'm going to try it sometime. I'd like to write at the Harold Washington Library in particular, because that's the biggest one in the city (and the nicest one, in my opinion).

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  2. My god, you don't want to get to the point where you think TV is reality! Eep! I hear you on the noise factor. We've had renovations happening next door all summer and it's been driving me MENTAL. I find it hard to write anywhere but home, so it's been a struggle sometimes!

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    1. Hi Talli,
      I can't even watch some of the shows, like Dance Moms, because they're so disturbing. That show in particular bothers me because if I was a mother, I would never tolerate a dance teacher who screamed at me or my child.
      I wish I could write outside, but it'll be too cold for that soon enough. I think I'm going to try writing at the library and at home, though I'll still stop at cafes for an occasional caffeine fix. :)

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  3. Loved this! I have to get out of the house to write sometimes, too, particularly when drafting. I just struggle to focus, so I hit the coffee shop, put on my headphones, and write up a storm. I can get twice as much done, in half the time, away from home.

    Unfortunately, I have no solution for the seat vultures. I've tried libraries, where there is more space. But there's no coffee, so that's a problem. ;-)

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    1. Hi E.J.,
      I love the coffee and pastries, so it would be hard to write without them. That's another thing I don't get about the freeloaders. They're in a cafe surrounded by people who are enjoying good food and coffee; I don't think I could resist the temptation.
      It is hard for me to focus too, especially because my TV is in the same room as my laptop. I read somewhere that it's good to write at different places aside from your own home, because then you have no choice but to write.

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  4. Great list! I've thought many of these things, which is why I can't stop writing. :)

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    1. Hi Emily,
      I think the fact that you can't stop writing shows that you truly are a writer. The people who say they want to write but never write anything don't understand what writing signifies or what they can learn from it.

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  5. I'll tell you what my BFF told me when I had one of those days where I was wondering if it was worth it. She said you just never know what can happen if you try, but you know exactly what will happen if you don't.

    She was right. So I kept trying. :)

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    1. Hi Johanna,
      That's good advice! It is true that we know what will happen if we don't try; I didn't realize that before. I guess the question is also whether we can live with what will happen (or what will not happen) if we don't try. For most writers, the answer is that we can't live with what will happen if we don't write.

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  6. I'm a coffee-house writer too, so I know the frustration, plus the distractions possible around home. Sometimes when I'm pretty sure I'm not too likely to need the internet, I write outside in a park or something, taking coffee and pastry along with me, so I might suggest that to you as an option. Of course that can't be done all the time or in all weather, but when it is possible it's a nice break from coffee crowds and home noises.

    Also, on the subject of reasons to keep writing - my chief one is that I become a horrible person if I don't write! That is, writing relaxes me and if I don't do it for a long time, I start being a lot more snappy and anxious. So I stay a writer for the good of everyone else, not just me!

    Thank you for this post, by the way! It's interesting to know another writer's reasons for continuing to write.

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    1. Hi SolariC,
      I know what you mean about how writing or not writing can affect your mood. A few years ago, I wasn't able to write fiction for several weeks because I was working three jobs. I remember looking at my journals on my table before I left for work every day, and I felt bad because I couldn't sit down and write.
      I wouldn't mind writing in a park, as long as it wasn't too windy or cold. I'd actually like to write in Grant Park, because that's my favorite park in Chicago. But I'd have to do it before winter.

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  7. This list needs to be bronzed and hung in coffee shops everywhere - right next to the sign that says "The tables & WiFi are for paying customers only...jerks."

    When I first got into writing and fully realized how much time it took away from other things, I too thought about quitting - but the moment I resolved to stop, I busted out crying because I knew how very much I would miss everything you list here.

    I dislike the pressure we put on ourselves to be published and "successful" because writing isn't about that, at least not for real writers. It's about the experience of writing itself. And like you say, even if our works never amount to much to the outside world, it's still a far better use of time than losing brain cells watching the likes of Honey Boo Boo. ;)

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    1. Hi Nicki,
      I think that as long as writing is a good experience for you, it's something worth doing. Even though I'm not a published writer, right now I can say that my fiction writing is something that I do for myself. I write what interests me and what I secretly think about but rarely or never say out loud. And I feel like I get a lot more from that than I would from watching reality TV, ESPECIALLY Honey Boo Boo's show.
      I have seen a couple independently owned cafes that had signs that specified that the Wi-Fi is just for paying customers; some of them won't give out the password unless people buy something. But at most of the other cafes I've been to, the baristas and managers never do anything about the freeloading jerks. I wish they would. It would make me buy more coffee, just so I could thank them for making the freeloaders leave.

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  8. I feel for you. We all hit these spots where life gets in the way of our writing, and we just don't know if we can make it work anymore. I'm glad you figured out how important it is to you. I hope it gets easier.

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    1. Hi Theresa,
      My life has gotten in the way of my writing too often lately; I used writer's block as an excuse not to write, when really I should have looked at the other things that were keeping me from writing. But not writing doesn't make me happy; writing does.

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  9. Who on earth would sit at a table without paying for something? And who on earth would let them? It's funny how location is so important to the writing process. I'm trying to keep my travel blog up but I've had difficulties finding wifi, even powerpoints, I wonder sometimes if it's worth the effort... but I always hear this voice in my head, "Failure is not an option!"

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    1. Hi Kelly,
      I really wish that the baristas or the cafe managers would say something to the freeloaders, because the freeloaders ruin the cafe experience for everyone else. I think that those people never buy anything and take up tables for hours because they're selfish and inconsiderate of paying customers and the baristas who rely on paying customers in order to get regular work hours.
      I think it's great that you are writing a travel blog. One day you'll be able to look back and relive what you experienced by reading what you wrote.

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  10. Love #8. It's such a great feeling!

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    1. Hi Deniz,
      It is a great feeling. It's something I don't typically feel after doing other things, like playing sports or cooking. I think that's one of the reasons why I want to keep writing.

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  11. Love this post.

    I'm 31, but living in a basement apartment and it is NOISY. The landlords are just thoughtless in the way they walk, talk (yell), stomp, stay up late, etc etc...honestly? I feel exhausted all the time. I'm at the point where the traffic outside irritates me..oh yeah, I have the eye twitch coming my way, I can see it now :)
    I feel like its an excuse, but man its not pleasant. It just stresses me out. Going to a coffee shop is not for me, I never could get into that. The library is feasible, but far away , so not a consistent reality.
    I want stability and settlement in my life you know? I know nothing will ever be perfect, but this stuff is driving.me.nuts.
    Okay...I know that's all excuses...but it feels good to vent.
    Love your blog by the way :)

    Jill

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    1. Hi Jill,
      Thanks! Sorry about the late response; I've been out of town for the last couple days and haven't had Internet access.
      Anyway, one thing that's worked for me in the past in terms of writing in my apartment is waking up early. Many of my neighbors wake up late, partly because they stay up so late partying. So it's quieter in the morning, which makes it easier to write. But right now it's hard for me to do that, because I've been teaching in the mornings.

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    2. Hi, I LOVE the idea of doing that. Trouble is that I'm struggling with insomnia....so in the morning I'm like a zombie.
      I really need to move....and concentrate...and make goals...and figure out this WIP....and maybe take a sedative before bed too :)
      Ha.

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