Last summer I made a goal to write more.
Since then, I’ve written something nearly every day. Sometimes it’s a list, sometimes it’s a poem, sometimes it’s an essay. Most of the time I don’t publish them. They just sit in a folder on my desktop waiting for further refinement.
I’ve always enjoyed writing but I’d never taken it as seriously as I have for the last nine months. It’s become a daily form of catharsis. I get an idea for something - usually on a run or backstage at a show - then race to my notebook and write it down.
It takes coffee and focused energy to turn that idea into a finished essay. It’s a good feeling to finish something every week. I have a self-imposed deadline and it keeps me on track.
Until this week. This week I got stuck.
I’m not sure if it’s the looming summer tour or the endless to-do list of condo repairs back in Chicago. Maybe it’s the warmer weather or because I’ve been having trouble sleeping. I know one thing, though, it’s not because I’m out of ideas.
I have a million of them. Ideas, I mean. I keep a list of each and every one, carefully indexed on my phone and MacBook. I’m never at a loss for what to write about because I view everything as an art project. Everything that happens to me gets filed away in my ideas folder, waiting to “volunteer as tribute” for this week’s Thursday Thoughts. Eventually I pick an idea, sit down to write, and don’t stop until I’m finished.
I followed the same formula this week. I picked a topic and wrote an essay. It was okay, but not great. So I wrote another draft. And another. I had a couple people read them and give me honest feedback. It wasn’t good to hear - but they were just being honest.
So I picked a new idea and started from scratch but it didn’t amount to anything. I paced my hotel room and stared blankly out the window of my flight into New York. I practiced calligraphy in my notebook (a favorite hobby) but the letters weren’t forming any meaningful words - just doodles in the margins.
I was stuck.
It’s not that the ideas were stupid or that the essays were terrible. They just weren’t ready, you know? They were unfinished and incomplete. I didn’t want to share something if I didn’t think it was good enough.
When I started Thursday Thoughts back in August, I did it on two conditions:
1) I would publish an essay every Thursday, without fail.
2) The essay had to be positive.
I found myself needing a place to rant. A place to complain or voice frustrations with the rigors of a creative life. A blog seemed like the perfect place. But the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want my writing to be full of negativity. I wanted to see if I could take something that was bothering me and put an optimistic spin on it.
That’s why the essays weren’t ready. They weren’t fully formed and were too negative to publish here. They weren’t helpful or constructive. They were just me getting a few things off my chest.
Was it good to get them off my mind? Absolutely. But that’s all. I’ll keep revisiting those topics until I can find a way to share them in a positive light.
Recently, someone told me they wanted to start a blog but they didn’t know what to write about that.
My advice? “Write about that.”
That’s exactly what I’m doing now. I’m turning my lack of concrete ideas into a post because that’s the best I can do this week. But I have seven or eight unfinished essays that are soon to follow.
I don’t know when they’ll be ready but I’m going to keep working on them. And I’ll be back next week with another new essay because Thursday Thoughts is not going anywhere.
I want to be able to say that I stuck with it - even when I was stuck.