Journaling June: This Is Why I Hate Writing Challenges

I hate days like today. It started so promisingly. My morning chores and hygiene routine went of without a hitch. The commute into work was so smooth I don’t remember it—I was zoned out and on autopilot. And best of all, at no point did I play out one of my anxiety fantasies. Anxiety fantasies are farcical situations about random things that have nothing to do with me at all.

(for instance, being brutally attacked by a police officer, a former girlfriend’s brother no less. the resulting court case is so devastating to the law enforcement community that all police, everywhere, are relieved of duty. this causes society to breakdown. civilization is reduced to a mad max dystopia.)

In other words, fantastically absurd delusions of grandeur. And, because the subconscious mind, or whatever, cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy, I get all worked up as if it’s actually happening. The stress reaction makes it seem more real, which gets me into the fantasies all the more, which makes it all seem more real. . . An ever downward spiral.

But, none of that this morning! It was easy going, one foot in front of the other.

(until now.)

I sit here before the blank page and . . .

(nothing.)

All the possibilities gone. I want to write but I’m noticeably empty, like trying desperately to remember the dream that’s . . . just . . .

(gone.)

A hangnail gives me a welcome distraction. It is a tough one to get at. When I do, it digs down deep, bleeds quite a bit.

When it’s bandaged I return to the page. Ugh. . .

(still waiting.)

This is why I hate writing challenges. They’re arbitrary and ultimately pointless.

(they’re not entirely pointless—)

Oh don’t start with that shit about “proving to myself” and “pushing past the resistance” and “establishing a habit.” I know all of that. Right now perfectly reasonable explanations are not helpful. Stomping my feet and being childish—

Ugh!

(we can rage all we want, the page is patient.)

I need some superglue.

My shoe is only a couple months old, if that, and it’s already coming apart. This is not good. I can get some on my afternoon walk. I pass a Walgreens.

(we have to get our words in first.)

Why can’t writing be more like exercise, huh? I rail against it, but all there is to do is pick up the weight however many times, or walk the treadmill for so long, or whatever, and then I’m done. Writing. . .

Writing requires . . .

(we put down one word, then the next, and another, and then we’re done.)

But that’s not the same. Words have to be good. If you’re going to publish them, that is.

(and there’s good form in exercise too, if we want to get real benefits, an not hurt ourself. the problem here is we’re getting ahead of ourself. we’re thinking we have to be perfect right from the start. yes, there is pressure to get something done with this writing challenge, but there’s time for a shitty first draft. we can ramble because we’re not sure where we’re going with it just yet. but, like with exercise, as we warm up things flow more smoothly, things click into place, and before we know it we’re humming along and—times up! writing is better than exercise because after a break we can come back and fix what didn’t work. with a bit of distance we come back with fresh eyes, able to see what we were trying to do and make it right.)

Hmm. I guess so. And would you look at that, time for a break! Where did the time go? Must have switched to autopilot there.

(hmm. must have.)

5 Replies to “Journaling June: This Is Why I Hate Writing Challenges”

  1. I’m the same with writing prompts. I know a lot of people get a lot out of them, but I never really get excited about responding to someone else’s prompt and then reading about how others have interpreted it. Maybe I’m just a stick in the mud!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you wrote that. I’ve never been fond of writing prompts either. And writing workshops/classes are rife with ‘em, aren’t they? I’ve just assumed that I wasn’t getting the “right” one’s, you know? Or, perhaps, I’m also a stick in that mud.

      Liked by 1 person

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