I don't feel like writing today.
It could be because I didn't feel like reading today. I didn't read for class. I didn't read the Arendt book that I've stuck myself with. I didn't read the blogs I read everyday. I didn't read the newspaper. I didn't look at my webcomics. On days that I don't read, I don't really feel like working at all on anything.
But they say that you have to write, especially on days that you don't feel like writing. They say that these days are the real test. That talent comes easy, but it is work that makes it consistent. Or like F. Scott Fitzgerald put it in a letter to his friend Frances, "You have talent — which is the equivalent of a soldier having the right physical qualifications for entering West Point."
This is also the real reason for my taking Blogathon seriously. One of my resolutions for this year was to write everyday. To write consistently, a thousand words a day at least. It may not be something important. It could just be a long email to someone, or a journal entry, or a rant like this one about not wanting to write.
I haven't managed everyday, yet. But I can already feel it make a difference. I think more about length and structure even with non-academicky things. In my formatting OCD-ness, I now have an additional paragraph length element. (I get finicky when the size of my paragraphs is uneven. Just like how I get finicky when my paragraphs aren't justified or there is an extra space in a sentence.)
Maria Popova (again, yes, I love this blog!) also once did a post on the daily routines of writers. It was most fascinating, because pretty much all of them had a similar discipline to their writing. Most of them seem to have one thing in common: They use their daily routines as a way to "moor" themselves.
Murakami, famously, writes early in the morning and then runs a lot and swims a lot. I did this when I was writing my dissertation: I swam, a mile everyday. I needed it, more than anything, to not be stressed. But eventually, it also became where I structured what I was thinking and the section I was writing that day.
I don't feel like reading today, but reading is what keeps me grounded. It gives me a sense of purpose, a sense that I have done something with my day. So even if I haven't been able to write everyday yet, I think what bothers me about today is not that I haven't written, it is that I haven't read.
But writing helps me think. Often, I write simply to organize what I am thinking - to give it some sense of form. (I don't know if this happens to everyone - I always end up with a very different argument, structure and sometimes even content from what I begin with. And the longer a paper is, the variance is that much larger.)
Stephen King says: "Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy."
So here I am. Getting happy.