That growing sense of dread as you approach the desktop. The groggy eyes from a night spent trying to remember that smacker of a headline. The lethargy of racking your brains over coffee. Modern-day writers are just as troubled a lot as the Hemingways and Poes of yore (not that there’s ANY comparison in merit or talent, meh). In fact, the only reason our rooms look cleaner is because the backspace is the new discarded paperball of bad sentences.
I panicked the first time I had to write an article. It’s a decade-and-a-half, and I still feel like the helpless babe (the wailing, tiny kind not the substitute for hotness). Panic sets in before I begin to write even.
If I am having a chat with a colleague after turning one in, my mind has a hard time focussing on the face or the words because it’s floating back to that exclamation mark sticking out like a pole in barren land.
Note: Exclamation marks are almost always not required.
Remember the episode The Sniffing Accountant from the iconic Seinfeld series? Elaine breaks up with her boyfriend because he won’t use an exclamation point in his note. Of course, she goes on to overcompensate by adding exclamation points in her edit and almost gets fired.
So much for the before and after of writing something as short as a 500-2000 word article. During the process, however, once in a noon, I am in the flow and the words pour out like healing waters from a hot spring. I lose track of time. Hours seem like minutes and before I know it, dusk has set in. Writers will know this feeling. Runners know it. Chefs know this sensation. A lot of my musician buddies experience this in the studio in phases that last for days during a collaboration.
Author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi puts it beautifully in his bestseller Flow (I highly recommend it for understanding the creative process)
All the misery of the before and after is worth the state of flow. It’s bliss, higher consciousness, serenity and oneness. From panic and inner chaos to this? Who wouldn’t want to write?