Back when I really had the time to write, as a kid on shady summer days, in college on long weekend mornings, right after college when I was still hitherto ungainfully unemployed, I didn’t. I wish I had. So when I saw this advice, from Polish poet Stanislaw Lec, I bristled. It felt like sarcasm.
I designed it graphically on my softest background, and I still didn’t like it.
What does it mean, really, to stop writing?
Maybe writers can still put words down on paper, and not be “writing,” whatever that is.
And then it occurred to me that, while writing has been like a flame inside for as long as I can remember, the pressure to create something worthwhile, something appealing and insightful and writerly, could dim that flame like shutting the chimney flue on a crackling fire. I waited to start putting words to paper for so long because I thought I was supposed to be writing something. Making important noises with my words.
Maybe if I’d stopped “writing” before I even began, more words might’ve snuck past my defenses and planted themselves on paper.
I could have been storytelling. Remembering. Playing with sounds. Who needs this writing business, anyway?
Perhaps dropping the entirely-too-serious endeavor of Writing Something could be a way to write more, and write better.
Yes, I’m sure that’s what he meant.