After Prince died last year, I was determined to start writing again. But every time I sat down at my laptop, I couldn’t manage more than a few sentences before having a panic attack. I judged my writing not merely imperfect, but a condemnation of what I’d done with my life.
I was determined though, so I picked up a copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. My answer was on page 5. Handwriting. I bought a cheap notebook and started writing. I have actively journaled since then. I can handwrite forever–fiction, non-fiction, grocery lists, you name it.
I love handwriting. It’s one fluid motion: pen on paper, my words from my own hand. I am braided into the creation process. I know the content because my body remembers every turn and loop of each letter. And it doesn’t matter if no one can read it (not even me sometimes) because I remember the passions that scratched each stroke into the page. Even if I scratch it out, my reasons for doing so are in the squiggly lines masking their forbearers.
Is it possible to have that type of relationship with digital content? I’m not sure, but I feel like I need to get faster, produce more content…I left this too late. I no longer have panic attacks at my computer but are not quite besties yet. Maybe we can start as acquaintances and grow into friends.
So I am trying to “free write” on my computer again. I need to get past this obstacle so I can finish an important project that is just taking waay too long.
I go into “edit” mode the moment I sit down. Perhaps it is the red and blue lines of misspelled words and grammar issues. Or the finality of the delete key.
With a digital medium, I feel like I have to get it right the first time. Logically, I know this isn’t true. It is so much easier to revise on the screen than by hand. But my creative mind frequently gives logic the middle finger.
I also think about the consequences (catastrophizing I think it’s called.) Once digital words are out there, you can’t take them back. Plus, where once people would just think your writing or opinion is shit, now they can not only tell you it’s shit, they can make a dancing shit gif and share it with the world.
But, I won’t let that deter me any longer. Bring on the dancing shits. I’ll dance with them.