Permission Not to Write
Writers give themselves permission to write badly. They give themselves permission to write freely. Today I’m giving myself permission not to write.
It might seem an odd statement given I’m sitting here typing, but this is not the article I should be writing today. Last week I promised you part four of the series of articles on knowing your process – the “where’s” of.
There was just no writing to be had today though and rather then beat myself up, hang myself out to dry, name and shame, and generally feel guilty about it… I decided instead to give myself a break. See, the things is, I’ve learnt guilt is pretty much a useless emotional state – it leaves you suffering in limbo – unable to learn from the past, unable to enjoy the present nor plan or dream for the future. So guilt is not welcome around here, especially when it comes to writing. There are so many more enjoyable ways to undermine yourself than to hand it over to Guilt.
It’s not a cop out though, handing myself the writer’s equivalent of a “Please excuse Jodi from Physical Education today – she’s not feeling well”.
The right to opt out of writing for a day comes with a responsibility – right and responsibility being the flip-side of the same coin. To claim my right, I need to accept some responsibility for today and that means understanding why and working towards it not happening tomorrow.
So today I didn’t make it to the page because:
- It was the last day of the school holidays and we’re all over being in each other’s face. On top of that the number of children in my household increased from one to three – thus tripling the “we’re all so over the school holidays” energy and rattiness.
- I need a certain amount of peace and quiet for headspace, and today putting the earphones on and turning up the music loud was only drowning out the arguing, whinging and fighting of three children, not negating the bad vibes put out by it all.
- The more I wanted to write, the less I could focus… and the more the time slipped away… and the greater the block in my head became.
- I spent a good deal of today away from home and even with my notebook and pen in hand, the best I could do was scratch out a few ideas – after which the only thing which happened was I yelled for the umpteenth time for all three kids to please get along and include each other. The three of them should have worn t-shirt with “I’m with the grumpy Mummy.” This has been the extent of my creativity and non-fiction musings for the day!
- Today is also the first day of my detox from sugar, caffeine and alcohol. These are all crutches ruining my body and today was the day I decided to go cold turkey (if only I had have known!) Thus my eyes ache, my head is splitting down the middle, there’s a lump of anxiety sitting on my chest and I generally just feel lousy, mean and spiteful (no wonder there’s so many bad vibes running around the house – the kids were feeding off my bad vibes like an all-you-can-eat lolly buffet.)
And all this happened because… somehow when I got excited about school holidays allowing me to sleep in for two weeks, I lost sight of all the other things school holidays meant – less time, more noise, less personal space, more time out of the house… so on and so forth. I feel so stupid.
But rather than jab a huge red FAIL stamp on my head or work my thumb and forefinger into an ‘L’ or (like I did last week) force myself to stay up until 11pm to finish an article which was moving through me like a rusty, blunt razorblade… I’m going to grok the lesson.
Tomorrow I’m taking myself off to the movies to see something I want to see, enjoy a quiet meal and get my head around the gruelling schedule facing me down like a rabid dog. At least tonight I will sleep well because Guilt will be out in the cold looking to hassle someone else and I won’t be making the same snow-balling mess of things next holidays. And the most important thing of all… I filed my column.
Have you ever given yourself permission not to write? If it’s not too personal a question – why, or why not?