Distractions

But I also have a theory about all of the distractable types: there’s a very good chance you’re not writing because you’re not writing about what you actually want to write about.

This may sound improbable to some–isn’t writing about Freedom? Yes. Writing is so much about Freedom, you can’t even say writing is about Freedom, actually, without feeling despair. No, what I mean is something else–the writer in the grip of the ostentatious obligation to Make Literature, creating something that looks like what they think a story or novel is, instead of a story or novel. If you neglect your own writing, chances are something, or someone, or both, have given you the idea that your Freedom is missing. That you’re not free to do as you want. Surfing the internet feels a lot like being Free. So, you do that instead of your work.

The next time you find yourself helplessly in the grip of some internet rabbit hole, take a slight step back, and don’t stop yourself, but ask yourself what it is you are really after. What are the feelings you feel? The rabbit hole isn’t real, it’s the force of your own rejected interests, in doing a dance with the internet. Which is to say, you’re actually in control–there’s something you want to do that you’re not doing and you’re not facing it.

and

Or, this last bit: whatever it is that is so distracting, would you write more if you wrote about it? Does it want, in other words, to be your subject?

My first thought was, ‘I’ll repost this (with a hat tip to Paige Williams) because it’s so great.’ I’m in broad agreement with Chee, especially if his message is “it’s important to pay attention to what really interests you.”

But I also worry that this message is too tidy. The danger would be mistaking any old distraction for a real subject of inquiry. Because, goodness, what if your rejected interests were rejected for important reasons? Perhaps they are trite and self-absorbed, or perhaps you lack the skill to write about things that are trite and self-absorbed. This seems like a real problem, one not easily overcome by careful thinking.

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