“I could never do what you do.” Was something almost everybody would say to me when I told them that I quit my job to write my book full time. I was naturally flattered. It felt like an affirmation in the midst of a guilt trip for not working at my day job to pursue my dream of becoming an author. Instead, the experience worked out to be endless hours of mental distraction and anguish.
Adaptation really enthralled me because I could relate so well with the protagonist’s internal monologue. Charlie’s dreams were fettered with uncertainty, and in the quiet, his fearful mind cranked up the volume with everything from a case of the munchies to the unbearable pressures of accomplishing the actual work he endeavored to realize.
In my own experience, the blank page scoffed at the lack of talent that surely was behind my vacant stare. I looked into the emptiness of the page as if it was the manifestation of my personality. This vacuum is the place where demons reside, they’re the ones behind the sound booths of mental white noise as much as they are behind the lies we creatives feel obliged to agree with.
Those lies attack precisely the things we’re ill-equipped to deal with. Things left buried in the past – and that’s where the distraction comes in, an appeal for us to turn away.
It’s no coincidence that these haunts raise their heads in the quiet. Writing is a very personal labor of love, and understanding one’s heart is essential to the intellectual honesty it requires.
The truth is, I could never do what I set out to. Quitting my job was the worst decision I could have made. My reasoning was that I was too exhausted after a full day of work to really give the focus my writing deserves. The reality I discovered however, was that my inner psycritic threw enough shifting standards at me to keep me playing mental-distraction whac-a-mole. It quickly became apparent that matters of the heart needed to be dealt with.
It may be argued here that writing is a great therapy. I agree that journaling is indeed useful, even necessary to facing down those demons. However, sharing unedited and deeply personal thoughts via stream-of-consciousness would probably marry painful boredom to stress-inducing horror.
Okay, maybe that’s overstated.
Still, clarity is the issue, and the quiet will haunt you as long as those demons are allowed to play their mind games.
My remedy: trust in God.
Pray, journal, and when you know what’s on your heart, address it.
Give your heart the time it needs to heal.
Write often in the process.
Whenever you can, punch those demons in the nose.
Then, sit your butt down and keep your hands on the keyboard until you’ve poured out your soul. Thinking comes later!