Draft, delete, repeat

I feel like I should be writing. I have enough thoughts and ideas I want to write about or discuss, but nothing I come up with seems right.

For instance, I’ve been feeling quite happy lately – this deep-seated contentment that permeates my being most of the time. I’m not always aware of it, especially when I feel down for some reason. So, it feels precious when I do realise that it is just there and that things are good.

But how do you write about happiness without sounding contrived or preachy? I can only speak from my perspective, which may be helpful to some and appear idiotic to others. Does it even matter? This blog is called ‘The Story of my life’. I can only share my perspective.

Apart from sounding contrived, I could very well be in over my head as well. After all, so much has already been said and written about the subject, what could I possibly add?

Which takes us back to this being my story and nobody else’s. We may be nearing 8 billion people on this planet in the next year and a half, but no two people will ever live the exact same life. Each story is unique.

Still, I can’t quite decide on how to pursue one subject over another and end up deleting what I’ve written and start on something else.

I’ve done this several times already and here we are. The latest draft discarded and on a new subject that somehow combines everything I’ve attempted to write about before. Will this be the piece that gets published?

Sometimes I feel like writing and nothing much will come of it. I will end up jotting down thoughts, discarding them and end up frustrated at having achieved nothing. Eventually, I simply shut down the laptop and turn to something else. Maybe next time.

Perhaps I shouldn’t just delete my ideas, though. Keeping a draft won’t hurt. It gives me the option to come back to it later when I may have something more coherent to say or discover what my point is.

And I know I shouldn’t let this frustrate me. Every word I write is an achievement, even when it ends up being deleted again. Sitting here and trying to get something done is better than avoiding it altogether. I find that frustrates me more than trying to write about three different topics and being overly critical with what I’ve written.

Right now, I just have to get over myself. I probably won’t be writing anything of any significance. But I have tried, and I have written about something that occupies my mind. If nothing else, it is good exercise.

This is true for everything we try to do. Whether that’s playing an instrument, learning a language, or any other challenge we face. As long as we keep working at it a little at a time, we can get where we want to be.

So, what if I go through several drafts that I end up deleting? I keep going and won’t let my frustrations stop me.

Doing our best on any given day may not always approach anything we would even consider ‘good’, but it may just be enough.

Where do I begin?

Does it begin with an idea or with the mere desire to write something? I keep collecting ideas. I take a note on my phone. Or I use one of my many notebooks and jot it down.

To never return to it. Or to eventually return and wonder what I was on about. Or to discover that the idea had merit and might just be worth pursuing.

Then I do something else yet again.

Procrastination is the worst. One might argue that it serves its purpose. My all-time favourite writer, Neil Gaiman, is known to have taken ten or twenty years before finally turning one idea or another into a book. Coraline and The Graveyard Book spring to mind.

It’s not that I always just avoid writing. I mean, I love writing. I write every day. But working on an idea sometimes seems to require an incredible amount of effort. Deep down, I know it will be worth it to put in the effort. If only for my own sake.

Somehow, though, it seems impossible to even get started. An idea is not enough. I can keep collecting them until I have a whole book full of ideas. But that doesn’t make a story. It will never be more than a collection of ‘what ifs’. Starting points that never amount to anything.

That’s not what I want.

I had an incredibly lazy weekend. I don’t know whether I felt down or if it was the weather, which was too humid and occasionally too warm.

Perhaps I simply suffered too much sun on Friday, which is definitely a possibility as I was on assignment out in the morning and exposed to cloudless skies and a burning sun for more than three hours. I was pretty exhausted once I got home. Chances are, I needed the weekend to recover.

But I also promised myself on Sunday evening to be productive come Monday. I even made a to-do list for Monday and Tuesday. Thus far, I’ve ticked off all the items.

I also did plenty of writing, which was the main point. I kept the to-do list realistic and every time I ticked off an item, I felt satisfied. I’m planning on continuing that for the next few days and see how I go.

In any case, another item I will need to add is creative writing. Ages ago I had an idea for a story that has not left me, and I want to work on it. I’ve made a bunch of notes in a bunch of places and actually starting work on that might just be a good beginning.

When I started this blog, I had the idea of publishing the story in several parts here. It’ll be a while before I get there, but I certainly hope to have something publishable at some point.

I guess, when you don’t know where to begin, writing about it and sorting your thoughts is as good a start as any.

Dramatic afternoon skies over the North Atlantic.

Am I lazy?

Yes, one could argue that I am. But only when it doesn’t matter. As in, I can just kick back, relax and do nothing. Or do irrelevant, distracting things. Like browse social media.

Also, I am extremely good at procrastinating. Postponing tasks that need to be done in favour of less important things. Those also need to be done, it’s just not that urgent. The good thing is, doing less important stuff still makes me feel somewhat productive and I feel less guilty for not doing what is more important.

Whether I consider myself lazy or not does depend on how I measure myself in terms of productivity, though. Being productive is not my main purpose in life.

I have totally unproductive days when I am unwell for some reason. I don’t do my freelance work (which is usually not super urgent), won’t do laundry, won’t cook or tidy very much, and only go for a shower because it absolutely makes me feel better.

I also have simply lazy days, when the laundry can indeed wait another day and I much rather read a book or watch a TV show or sit and listen to music or go for a walk or bike ride.

But is taking time for relaxation really being lazy?

Only if you measure yourself according to your productivity. Which fails to take into consideration that we need those self-care days and time to unwind and do nothing. It is okay to be unproductive.

I am not lazy when it comes to the things that matter to me and the work that I cherish. Sometimes I have to write a freelance article that bores me to tears. It may take me a while to get it written, but I will put as much effort into it as I would for an article, I am invested in.

Similarly, nobody would ever accuse me of being lazy in my second job, where I am a team lead, and usually the one putting out all the little fires and helping everyone with everything. And not only do I not mind, but I also actually enjoy it.

And during normal times when there is no global pandemic forcing event and concert venues to remain closed, putting me on furlough, I do a lot of overtime as well. We’re talking about a job here I do because I truly enjoy it, not because I need the money it pays.

So, am I really lazy?

I think not. Never when it matters.