Resisting the compulsion to write has become something of a habit. There was a time not too long ago that I would drop everything when a thought blossomed into more than just a couple of lines of prose. It is not all that uncommon, still, for me to write as much as an entire paragraph or more in my head, but the urgency to commit it to actual text has not held the same priority as it has in the past. I’m not talking about a discrete moment in the past, but more in terms of phases… like the ebb and flow of the tides though not nearly as regularly or predictably.
Although I write a handful of stories for my employer every week, and that is important in its own right, it’s not the stuff that I generally gain any real insight from. True, the experience of gathering information and the actual work involved in reporting the story and how it all unfolds often renders an “aha” moment, but the process of writing the news is bound by rigor. There are some hard and fast rules that can rarely ever be broken. I enjoy the results of the writing I do for work, but the actual writing of the news is often a challenge. I want to blame it for my apathy when it comes to the writing I have historically enjoyed so much more.
So, this piece was supposed to explore the creative elements in writing. Not so much, for example, in the worlds that novelists conjure up and not so much the discoveries the new-age author might relate to us, but in the actual creation of strings of words and punctuation. I was going to draw a distinction between the writing I do for work and that which I create for this space. I had intended to place the (rule) free-writing I do here against that of AP Style news writing I do at work and label news writing as less creative. But as I explore that premise, I can no longer say it is so. Just as visual and audio artists deal with the advantages and limitations of different media, writing within the rigid rules that news demands is a creative endeavor as well.
However, all artists have a preference. Being curious by nature, I refuse to take “no” for an answer; assertiveness is an excellent quality for a reporter and in that aspect of my job I couldn’t be happier, but news writing is not the type of writing I enjoy most - probably because of the rules. That is not to say that I despise news writing - quite the contrary, it is just my least favorite aspect of the job whereas the writing I do here isn’t a job at all. And perhaps that is the difference. Regardless and for whatever reason, my resistance to committing words to paper (or the electronic equivalent) is real; experience tells me that writing about it often produces realizations that simply thinking about it never will.
There is something to be said about action. Although I am quite sure that pounding on a keyboard doesn’t burn many more calories than deep thought would, it does result in a product… something more than just a memory to show for it. Even if the permanence is fleeting, these words actually do (or did) exist. This is going to be published, but if my computer crashed and it all went away in an instant, it was still created. The work was done. Maybe it all went into cosmic energy, maybe the wiring in my brain holds it differently or maybe these words in and of themselves mean nothing at all other than another end of not writing the way I like to write. Another changing of the tides.