Not Writing?

by Zhenya

I have an idea for a book, or a course, to write. It can eventually become a self-paced online course, or a book with practical/reflective tasks, or both. In fact, the post here is not about the idea for that ‘something’. It is about not writing it.

I recently realized how my process of the actual writing depends on what others think. I caught myself creating a list of people I (should?) need to contact, and the specific questions to ask them (about the process of writing, about the topic/theme for this project, about the potential audience, ‘would you read it’ kind of questions, etc.) On the one hand, this might be seen as a preparation stage for the writing itself. On the other hand, I noticed that I am feeling much more comfortable doing this ‘preparation’ instead of the actual writing, or putting the content of the project on paper. It’s all in my head, and I am savouring the moment of anticipating how I will be putting it together. Well, instead of the actual ‘doing’ it!

Is this the habit (the ‘curse’?) of student-centered-ness in the classroom? Of participant-centered-ness on a course? How can I start writing what I actually think if I am constantly looking back and thinking what others might add/comment/ask?

Am I afraid that the result would not be perfect? (wow, is there anything, literally anything, perfect?) Am I simply procrastinating (and looking for more and more excuses not to start)? Writing this post is a good example 🙂

Reflective Bench

A possible solution I see: treating the project as a draft, an ‘A-version’, something to later edit and build on. You can’t improve a blank page (again, these words of wisdom are not mine, which means there were others struggling with the same problem, or at least thinking about it). I am in the process of drawing a line between the ‘what’ (the content) and the rest.

I would like to start writing for content, for meaning. Writing being aware that even if no-one would ever read the result, it is worth writing right now (yes, from my subjective point of view). I need to stop thinking about the ambition and the reaction, the response others might have towards the words I am putting on paper. Shifting the focus on the process, rather than results, is probably one way to see it.

It is all about courage to show up and do the work. This TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert was inspiring and powerful, and found me at the right time, it seems.

Thank you for reading 🙂