It’s come back to this. That time of year when I stare at a blank screen, saying “It’s only 200 words, it’s fine.”
I’m sat here listening to my old playlists and going through all of my old (not necessarily good) self-comfort routines.
I’m slowing down my breathing by singing to slow(ish) songs and every so often tapping at my keyboard.
Having to articulate my feelings helps.
I always think in words anyway — pictures accompany the words, but essentially, I’m thinking aloud inside my head all the time — so typing isn’t something that’s hard for me to do.
Apparently, not everyone thinks like this — which is something that blew my mind when I first found out.
One day, a short time ago…
I was talking to S about my ‘writing process’, trying to explain the current block I’m suffering through for my story, and, as I started to explain how I thought through problems he just kind of stared at me like I was an idiot and said, “Is THAT why you read so slowly? Do you sound every word out…like how five-year-olds learn to read?”
I just replied with, “Well, isn’t that how everyone does it? How do you know what it says unless you make the sound of the word in your head? That’s how language happens, isn’t it? You think the word and then say it?”
His look of bamboozled confusion ratcheted up a notch and he said, “Urm, no…you just know what the word says when you look at it and move on? I don’t understand.”
We successfully broke each other.
I couldn’t comprehend thought without the sound of language, and he couldn’t imagine thinking every word aloud before you can process it.
As a result, thinking has happened.
Which, in turn, led me to stumble over this question: How do we re-discover what’s obvious?
To me, thinking a certain way was just how it was done and trying to think in a different way is, quite literally, impossible. The same goes for S. He can’t think as I do…but that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine what it’s like for the other person.
It’s something that I find fascinating: Discovering new worlds within worlds…ones that were so obvious that we didn’t even see their existence until an offhand comment forced a total standstill in our lives.
I wonder what else I’m missing? What do I do so naturally that it’s not even worth thinking about most days, that others would find mind-blowing even to comprehend?
I suppose, for some, writing 200+ words every day (or so) would count.
So many people go through their daily lives without writing a thing. Others can’t imagine it, and yet, will type the equivalent of essays to friends over internet chat. They don’t see it as ‘writing.’ For them it’s speech.
Those are the people that make me smile.
When I say to them that I write and they say, “Oh wow, I could never do that!” I reply, “Well, you’re doing right now.” They always insist that it’s different.
I suppose, in a way, it is. Creative writing comes from a very different part of yourself than stream of consciousness thought.
But the two are linked.
I will always maintain that if you can write a conversation, you can write a story.
It might not be a great story; it could be the worst one ever created…but the very fact that you’ve done it means that the capacity is within you.
The ability to write a story is often described as using ‘the creative muscle,’ and I do kind of agree with that metaphor. It’s a skill, and like any other, doesn’t come as readily to some as it does to others.
No one wakes up one day and can suddenly write a best seller; just as you didn’t learn to walk overnight either.
It’s something that adults seem to shy away from these days. We tell children to do it all the time but then snub our noses at the idea ourselves.
I see people all the time wondering why ‘kids today’ are so lazy?
Kids do what they see.
They see adults who sit and watch TV all night when they get home from work. They talk to adults who say that going for walks is what losers do and see people who don’t even bother to try something for fear of failing at it.
How about we open our minds a little and ask one another the basic questions again?
Maybe we’ll discover what was in front of our eyes the whole time?
Also published on Medium.