I sit down with a fresh cup of coffee and I intend to get started properly on a coursework piece I have due in. I feel a tad guilty; it’s reading week and I only woke up at half twelve despite having nine whole hours of sleep. I feel like I’ve wasted my time and that the only way to compensate for this is to do something worthy now, to justify it all. Procrastination isn’t the right term to use here, it’s more a case of chronic laziness I’ve developed in the space of two days. I’m not particularly pushed for time, in fact, I have weeks before my coursework is due in and a random burst of productivity meant that I accidentally wrote 500 words of the 1500 a few days ago. By all means, I’m perfectly on track and I can form my ideas and write up leisurely.
I’m comfortable. My curtains are shut, my glasses are on, I’ve clicked most of the bones in my back so I can sit for hours now and the world is blocked out by the erratic shuffle of thousands of songs on Spotify. My folder is open in front of me with some vague spider scrawls of initial thoughts I had when reading through the poems I have to analyse, I’m good to go. But then-
Of all tracks, it’s Nude by Radiohead.
God-damn it, Thom Yorke. You and your stupid transcendent lyrics and vocal melody lines.
Radiohead is one of a few select artists that seems to send my thoughts spiralling into a whole different universe. Before I know it, a new document is open and I’ve written half a page of what could transpire to be completely useless drivel OR potentially a concept I can work on and make sense of another time. I don’t know what happens when I get into zones of automatism like this; I have little or no comprehension of what it is I’m writing as it’s happening as though I’m completely disconnected from the fingers which aggressively tap against the keyboard.
The essential problem with these bursts of creativity is that I have no control. Over my ideas, over how long I’ll be writing or anything around me. Recently, it’s gotten so overwhelming that I’ve found myself equipped with my notebook on my travels so that any emergency ideas have a place before they fly free again. I’ve learned in the past that just hoping an idea sticks about is not a foolproof plan, it might filter unmemorable ideas that aren’t worthy of pursuit but it may also cause you to lose out on something quite incredible if you have a generally weak memory like mine. I feel guilty if my spontaneous bursts overtake other important tasks like coursework or set tasks from my seminars or even if when I’m at work the faces of customers blur into an anonymous squiggle if I’m running over some lyrics in my head… But all at the same time, how can I possibly stop myself?
I don’t know if the term ‘writer’s block’ is real; I do know that it’s possible for ideas to dry, for writers to shrivel up into useless beings for considerable periods of time. I know what it’s like to be without. To feel like a failure of a creative being on account of being unable to come up with anything new, to generate anything interesting or to find a spark of something special in old works. That’s why I’m apprehensive to nip my writing rampage in the bud, who knows when it’ll all go away?
Having said that, since I’ve started university, I’ve had a new lease of life in terms of my writing and it seems like being on a course with so many like minded people and determined writers, I’m actually beginning to find faith in my work again. Maybe my phase without writing was temporary and entirely as a result of being out of education/stimulation? Maybe this is the first step of many leading to back to my bookworm/writing enthusiast self?
At the moment, it seems the balance is coming on alright. I haven’t compromised any of my work as a result of my recreational writing, it just means that I spend more time on practicing the skills we discuss in lessons, which isn’t really a bad thing at all. So ultimately, all is well!