Thursday, December 1, 2011

Having No Idea


I have no idea what I'm writing today. That's mostly true. The full truth is that as I opened this page I thought, "I have no idea what to write," but as almost immediately realized that I would begin by writing about having no idea and stick with that for a while. As soon as I had that thought, I connected it with a larger picture of trying to figure out what to do with my life. In that moment I knew that I had a question to work on: how come I can so easily trust in the notion that just writing will lead me to something to write about when that idea is so difficult for me in the rest of my life?

For years now I've been thinking that I need to get out of my current job. I like the job and there are days when I love it, but I'm not sure it is secure and I feel like I'm getting stale after ten years. This summer I became convinced that I need to find the next stage in my life. I went so far as to talk it over with close friends and my therapist. I was trying to figure out how to go about it, but I had no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

When it comes to writing I often arrive at the page or screen with no idea what to write. I take up the pen or set myself at a keyboard and I allow myself have no plan. I just write. I write the first words that come to my mind. I write one word after another and my brain begins looking for connections. The words spark ideas. The act of writing generates ideas.

When I'm writing those first few words I'm not panicked. There is no anxiety. I know that it will work, that ideas will come and that there is a good chance they will be good ones. I've done it enough times and seen it work so often that I trust in the process. Even as I'm casting about for connections to those first few words, I'm doing it in a calm way. It's not a case of "I've got to think of something to write now!" It is, "there's something here that I want to write about, I'm sure of it." I just know and trust the method.

Which brings me back to the idea of finding a new thing to do with my life. I haven't had to do this very often, I don't have experience with it, and all that gumption I had in August and September is fading as winter approaches.I feel more and more that I need to do something new, but I don't know what the first steps are. I'm working the job I have and going through my daily life. If this were writing I would sit at the computer and begin typing, but it's not writing and I'm floundering, trying to figure out the first steps. What is a boy to do?

I know writing. I love writing. I'm doing it more than ever and I want to do it even more. Maybe it's as simple as that. Write more and find ways to write more than that. If I keep writing maybe there is a way for me to make a living out of it. I'm sure that there is. Other people have. Why not me? I just haven't figured out how. Not yet.

I'm at the stage of the blank screen, the empty page of life. Facing that in writing I would be calm, I would know the way forward. It's more difficult to stay calm in the face of life's blank screen, but staying calm is  half of the solution. That combined with staying in motion, moving forward, are the best ideas I have for now. I don't know what moving forward looks like exactly, but knowing the words for the solution might help me figure out the shape of it and get myself to playing that part.

For sure, writing is a part of finding what comes next and writing is also a part of whatever will come. And so I'll write on.