On Not Writing

There is a fascinating story of creation behind every product. Dozens of unrelated technological innovations coming together to create this new product that will be utilized elsewhere. It is sad, however, that we do not ascribe the same importance to the written word. Every word written, every essay penned is the result of words that came before it and of other words that did not quite make the cut.

Behind this boring post about how there is a wonderful story behind even the most mundane things, is a wonderful story. Things are almost always not how they seem. Now that I’ve got your brain going in loops, let’s move on to the fact of the matter. There is a story behind the existence of this post you’re reading right now. I’ve always been wary of responsibilities and deadlines. This is especially true this year since I’ve joined the Post A Week challenge. Mondays roll in and I’m filled with dread because I don’t even have a first draft ready.

So far, I’ve managed to whip up something in time, thus ensuring that my streak isn’t broken. This last week, I decided to sit down early and get something ready for the weekend. Now you would be forgiven for assuming that someone who shares his tips for beating writer’s block would have no trouble finding something to write about. But history has a cruel way of repeating itself, and I came up short of any ideas.

Over at Aeon, I read this essay on how the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer can help navigate a midlife crisis. This essay, combined with a well-written reddit comment on how to avoid regrets in your 40s, formed the basis for a post I had in mind.

I ended up trashing this idea because I’ve had quite enough of philosophy. I frankly don’t want to be stuck in a place where I am forever quoting philosophers and thinkers and arguing why this school of thought is better than that school of thought. Sure, philosophy is enjoyable and can lead to healthy debates, but when you eat and breathe philosophy, you lose track of your own life and thoughts. Secondly, a 20-something with no life lessons of value mouthing off about a mid-life crisis isn’t the best of things.

Fresh out of ideas, I concluded that a movie might get my creative juices flowing. I have these rare moments in my life where my near-perpetual existential crisis seems to contract. It is precisely in these moments when the masochist in me takes over. Over the weekend, I made myself watch the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Yes, you read that right, I watched all three of the prequel movies and none of the originals. Fans of Star Wars might know the pain I endured over those 7 hours, as robotic dialogues were delivered by characters I had no interest in a sterile CG scene.

The wide variety of emotions that one feels when watching the prequels is enough material to write about. I personally felt the five stages of grief flow through me, like the lava on Mustafar. Why anyone would knowingly put themselves through this traumatic experience is beyond me. Okay, I am exaggerating – the prequels aren’t that bad. I could write about just how disappointing these movies were, and how much of a masochist I am for spending an entire weekend watching these movies. But at the end of the day, I didn’t find the whole premise funny or interesting enough. Not that half-baked ideas have always been abandoned.

The last hope I had for getting some writing done was The Daily Post. They put up a prompt yesterday, which I took on as a challenge. I thought I’d write a short story, probably a mystery-thriller. What I ended up with was half a story, in the vein of Jeff VanderMeer’s ‘Annihilation’. The fact that my story seemed similar to Annihilation did not bother me; the movie comes out this month, so I figured my story would be a respectful nod to the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I gave up on the short story because I was doubtful of my ability to stick the landing – to craft an ending that was satisfactory, with the kind of weak plot that I’d developed. I think that’s just how it is – sometimes what you write isn’t up to the mark. And that’s okay.

To be honest, I consider this post to be quite an achievement of mine. Not only did I make it meta, by talking about other posts that could have taken its place, I also included a bit of irony into this post. Here I am writing about how I don’t have any ideas to write about. In this single post, I’ve written about all three of my previous ideas, something that wouldn’t be possible if I had chosen to work on one of the three.

The #postaweek task has been quite demanding of me, simply because I don’t have a routine for blogging. Churning out content every week, while also maintaining the same level of quality as before is a fine line to walk on. I can only expect the last few posts have been good enough. But that is sort of the point of this task, I guess. Getting to a place where writing is an essential part of my weekly routine, not just something I do an hour before the deadline. So here’s to hoping I have my post ready well in advance next time.


If I haven’t put you to sleep already with my incessant ramblings, please consider liking my Facebook page. While it might not end world hunger or curb global warming, it sure will put a smile on my face. Or maybe not, because of all the data Facebook has about us. 😉

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