Lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about my lack of contributions to this site.
I created this blog as a landing page for long-form thoughts, establishing a voice as a writer outside of obligatory term papers and endless e-mails.
I can’t say that my lack of contribution is due to lack of contemplation. I continue to fill my notebook with assorted thoughts, and mark the hell out of books (now mostly done electronically, due to my newly-acquired Kindle), with the intention of expanding on these thoughts and recollections. The thoughts continue to fester inside my head, until I move on, ruing my lack of enthusiasm for putting pen to page.
As I see it, dedicated time for uninhibited thought is split between consuming (reading books, blogs, news, commentary, etc.) and producing (writing.) In my life, this interplay is almost entirely one-sided, as I’m seldom seen without a book in hand, laptop open, or headphones tuned to the daily batch of new podcasts uploaded onto my iPod. This accessibility of information, and the respective tools used to consume this gluttonous habit, seems to be both a blessing and a curse. Interesting and educated opinions are more accessible than ever before, and I develop peripheral knowledge on the day’s current events and debates along with the rest of the so-inclined technorati. However, I’m often found guilty of recanting the thoughts and opinions of these authors without having taken the time to develop my own point of view – I fear that these opinions come to the detriment of my own.
I continue to play the seemingly never-ending game of whittling down my Google Reader to a manageable state to this day. Although I enjoy being “in the know,” It leaves me unfulfilled, and my desire to create remains, to tip the producing/creating scale a bit to allow for right brain-encompassing, creative thought.
My relationship with writing is complex, to say the least. Although I love to write, my stubborn commitment to sentence-craft and my scattered thought process makes the process extremely arduous and time consuming. I have always considered writing to be a part of my future: at what capacity is another conversation entirely. As it currently stands, it’s safe to say that my romantic ideal of creative output idea through writing overshadows my actual writing. It is much easier to hide behind the infallible words of my books, acknowledging that my ability and knowledge isn’t anywhere close to the level and quality of media that I consume daily.
With the help of the excellent blog Daily Routines (now long defunct, in Internet years), I have come to realize that writers do not write on inspiration alone. My work on this site, and habits as a writer in general, has been almost entirely based on this inspiration, committing several hours to a single post, setting it aside for the next day for a second edit, before washing my hands from it entirely. Talented authors commit to their craft daily, honing their ability through an endless cycle of drafts and reappraisals – often ridding themselves of painstaking hours of past work in the process.
Roger Ebert posted an interesting piece of advice given to him by an acquaintance, recollected from a conversation almost 30 years ago:
“Begin with a proper sketch book. Draw in ink. Finish each drawing you begin, and keep every drawing you finish. No erasing, no ripping out a page, no covering a page with angry scribbles. What you draw is an invaluable and unique representation of how you saw at that moment in that place according to your abilities. That’s all we want. We already know what a dog really looks like.”
What I guess I’m getting at in all this is the acknowledgement that a change needs to be made. There are no limits on the amount of words you can put to page over the course of your life. The fact is, I need to begin treating writing like the art that it is: requiring technical proficiency, continuous revision and painstaking years of practice. 10,000 hours, here I come.