Why write

I wish I could play football better. I’d love to be a brilliant public speaker. I wish I was funny. But the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to do well is write.

This is why I don’t write. Ideally whatever I’m writing would spool from my brain fully formed and fantastic. Though, crucially, I’m not sure what I’m writing. Because I tend not to write.

Re-reading some old blogs (and old work I did as a videogames journo) I wonder if I ever actually wrote the words. Some of it I’m increasingly proud of, but can’t seem to find a way back into producing it. This is why I don’t write.

I tend not to write because I think too much. This, without doubt, is a self-interested and almost mawkishly introspective spatter of paragraphs about, well, me. There are very few articles or novels of real quality or interest which are written directly about the author’s angst. This is what I tend to write.

Before writing I always ask myself ‘Why?’, especially if I want to write about a topic which captures my interest. A reluctance to write about an exciting idea I have, a theory I’m mulling over or a big question that’s hanging over my head all end in me returning to one topic: Me, and my angst. This is why I tend not to write.

For example, before I started tapping this out I’d been intending to try a post about why I think TV commentators are the reason behind England’s continued poor performance at international level. Or why the next England manager needs to pick players from poor Premiership or upcoming Championship teams.

I thought about writing a make-it-up-as-you-go-along script. Or fleshing out some ideas for a Doctor Who spin-off I came up with. Or developing some theories I’ve scribbled in my notebook. But I talked myself out of all these ideas. And so I’m writing this.

I picked holes in each topic, decided I couldn’t support my initial intention and wrote them off as not worth bothering with. That any of them would have made a more interesting post than this has not escaped me. But this is what I tend to write.

It’s often at quiet moments that I’m hit by the urge to write. Which is a problem because when it’s quiet all you can hear is your own thoughts richocheting around your head and diverting attention from the stuff that’s really worth perservering with.

So I tend to write self-considering babble like this, then think twice about writing when the urge comes again exactly because I tend to write such self-considering babble. When the only answer is to blast out the rubbish, and leave the quality to rise out of the mess.

Which is why I have to resurrect the One A Day streak a friend of mine started a couple of years ago, and stick it out through the dross until I get to the other side. At which point I’ll finally be able to stop writing about myself, and get on to something rather more interesting.

About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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