I don’t want to have to think. Sometimes this is as strong a feeling as I ever have, throbbing behind my eyes and persuading me, please, to just let go of the reins and give in, sink into the sofa. Don’t do anything. Don’t think. Just zone out.

It starts gently, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of a night’s writing because you had a bad night or because there’s been so much going on recently, that you really do deserve a break, don’t you, after all. It’d be nice. It’d be good.

But it is never good. I must have rattled on about this feeling I have a dozen times, about the deadness it brings to your limbs, about not being able to lay back too far without your eyes drifting shut and a sticky, useless sleep…

This is getting me nowhere. I’d intended, yesterday, to write a post about dialogue and how it was getting to be a pain in the arse, and that I was generally just finding myself fighting any need to actually think while writing. Instead I started wallowing.

Fact is I am just blunting my own abilities in some ridiculous way out of fear, desperation, laziness, whatever. Something. It’s a pattern, one I can recognise but one I still inexorably fall prey to dispite being aware of exactly what’s happening.

I have a very persuasive inner dodger. An inner doubter. Do I really know what’s best for myself? Of course, I do, but in low points – as the pattern arc begins – I immediately question this and seek out escape, duvet-soft smothering of thought.

A while ago I wrote up in scathing detail exactly what my indicators were, from eating habits to fug-headedness, and right through exactly what I was doing last week – reading/listening to books and being entirely consumed by them.

Yet I still can’t convince myself that, when I spot them, they are really indicators this time. I wanted to listen, avidly, to the audiobook because it’ll help me with my own writing. I wanted to read The Shining all weekend because it’ll help me with my own writing.

I feel fug-headed because I’m tired, I need early nights, I need sleep, I need a day off work in bed. Am I sugar/caffeine/salt crashing? Probably. Better think about my diet, or eat something ‘ballasty’ to fight back against the onrushing surge of sugar/caffeine/salt. Or gorge on chocolate/coffee/crisps when there’s a lack of it.

Bagels. I crave bagels when I’m plummetting. There’s something so comforting, so soft and happy about the glazed surface and the chewy, springy middle. At least I’ve moved on from Fuse bars, which used to be my foodescape of choice.

But though I’ve got a handle on my indicators – or at least, I can recognise them as I’m ignoring them – I’ve no idea why this happens. Perhaps there isn’t even a reason. Perhaps I’m just whining about something everyone goes through. Perhaps I’m just bored?

The reason doesn’t matter, in the end, so long as I’ve got some way of dealing with it. And every time I come home weary (probably shouldn’t write, it’ll only be too hard) or after an hour in someone else’s world (probably shouldn’t write, it’ll only be too hard) or whatever, I avoid probably the one thing which could pull me out.

When I started NNWM on 1 November, I felt good because I actually had no doubting/questioning – I was doing it because, well, it’s NNWM, and I want to do this thing, and I don’t need any other reasons. Five days later and I felt awesome. Even though it was hard, and even though it might not be going perfectly, I was doing something.

By the time my sheaf of typed papers had heft, this felt like the greatest month. I was myself, doing something I knew that made me feel proud and happy about myself. But as much as I felt beyond my old worries, they didn’t take long to catch up.

It’s been a whirlwind month, and so much has happened. I stopped writing because it just wasn’t appropriate to go off on my own for an hour when there was so much else. Combined with the intensity of the moments, these little gaps were all my doubt and fears needed to rush back in, driving the old wedge between me and writing.

After that, I sunk into audiobook territory. I’ve dived back into The Shining for the umpteenth time. I’ve cried off writing because of tiredness or weariness or just plain oh-not-now-I’m-comfortableness, and I lost my grip on what actually makes me better.

I don’t know if writing makes me better because of my life, because of how I was influenced. Possibly what’s so healing about writing is that it forces my own self, opinions and feelings to rise up to the surface when usually I find everything/everyone else in the world clouds and mingles with me so I no longer feel utterly myself.

I know it makes me better. I know I’m still afraid of it, but I know that I don’t need to be afraid of it not being worth doing (because it is) or of it being bollocks (because my wife tells me when it is) or of it being selfish (because it isn’t).

So, sorry writing. I’ve been meaning to write posts for days but have felt dizzy in fact as all of the other things I could be doing have streaked past my eyes – reading, working, thinking, working, doing something else, have I forgotten something?

Sorry writing. I’m back now. You always forgive me.

About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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