Frustration with words

Words can be so frustrating sometimes. When I’m in the tram, walking on the street, or just lying in bed, they appear spontaneously in my mind without much effort. They intermingle, they play and work together inside my head and they are able create the most beautiful images and the most fantastic worlds. It’s almost like magic, and in my imagination I have just crafted another award-winning piece which will stand the test of time as a classic. I even start to daydream about me giving an interview to some admiring journalist, trying to explain the genius of my work (hey, I am a dreamer after all). Now all I need to do is to remember those words and write them down and capture them on paper. But then I sit down behind my desk and open my notebook, and I try to recreate the images in my head, and… nothing. Oh, the words come out, but they just sit there, side by side, doing nothing. I’m pretty sure these are the same words, but the intermingling, the exuberance, the magic… they have all vanished. What I am left with instead is a piece of crap that is dull, boring, even lifeless. I desperately ransack my mind, trying to find out what I am missing, maybe lost somewhere in the deep recesses of my imagination, but no… I just don’t know. It’s just gone.

And so it has been lately. I’m trying to write an article on the movie Inception, and I had so many exciting thoughts and ideas about it (I hope so). But in the past few weeks, the article has undergone countless iterations, and yet I am no closer to something even satisfactory, let alone a masterpiece. It seems the harder I try, the further the original idea drifts away. Some people may say I doubt myself too much and that I am too perfectionistic. I don’t agree. At this point, what I’ve written is so bad I would be happy just to churn out something even halfway decent. Just put it down, forget about it, and move on to a next project. Or just stop writing altogether. That’s what I’ve always done in the past. It doesn’t work; in the end I always feel the urge to start writing again. It can take a few weeks, a few months or even more than a year, but inevitably that urge will return, and there is not much I can do about it. This is something I have accepted – albeit only since the last few months – and so I keep writing, hoping against hope that somehow I will be able to capture the magic.

By the way, I am highly exaggerating the “magical” process of writing in my head. When I’m writing in my head, as opposed to writing on paper, I tend to fill in any missing parts with loose images and ideas, and I tend to skip through the hard or dull parts. I focus only on those few sentences and snippets of dialogue which seem to work well in my opinion. So in truth, the scenes that I’m creating in my head are not all that great in the first place. They are just the first seeds, nowhere close to being a fully formed piece of writing. It’s only when I’m sitting behind my desk that I am forced to face the reality of actually writing it down with words. I’m actually quite bad with words, which is obviously very ironic for someone who fancies himself a writer. This is not to say that what I wrote above is just a bunch of bullshit; it is actually how I experience it. And it is true that I often lack the enthusiasm and freedom of mind when I’m doing the actual writing. Writing on paper and writing in my head are two completely distinct experiences for me, and for me to start making some meaningful progress, I need to find a way to combine the two.

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One response to “Frustration with words

  1. Pingback: Musings on Inception « The Musings of a Dreamer

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