northernl_08_frustration
©Philip Pullman

I have always wanted to write.

Even before I knew how, I was already scribbling on the blank spaces of all the books lying around the house – including the Bible. The love for writing was never just about the thoughts-to-words dynamic, it was the physical side of it as well: the paper textures, the pens, the ink on the pages, the keys and the typing sounds.

Growing up,  I would get top marks & praise on any assignment where I had to make up stories or on anything of what is now called creative writing. As a result, I developed a very healthy ego when it came to my writing skills. “Want an Arthurian tale? A poem? A play? Sure, how difficult can it be?” And it never was.

Enters age & becoming a grown up, and you find yourself second-guessing everything you write. Everything. Granted, studying Literature and Language at University made me terribly self-conscious about words and style and depth of meaning. But the truth was that, while I consequently thought of everything I had written before as childish, I also envied that younger Marta who wrote so fearlessly.

It took me longer than I would like to admit to realize that, from that point onward, it would have to be a matter of work.

A few years ago, my best friend & I were having a conversation about how writing had always been such an important part of our lives and of who we were. She is the most prolific person I know and, at one point, mentioned how, by the age of 9, she had already written a full-on adventure series of about 100 pages per book.

Not only was I in awe, it also made me think about why on earth was I so soundly confident in my supposed writing talents when, in reality, I produced so little and didn’t have that much to show for.

The answer was easy. Because every time I did write something that was meant to be read, it was effortless – so I thought myself the Master Queen of Words and Wit, bound to conquer the world, quill in hand.

I can’t help but think of Lyra, who could read the Alethiometer spontaneously until Dust settled, and then had to learn it from scratch, to study it thoroughly. To work at it.

Writer’s block is a condition that affects amateurs and people who aren’t serious about writing. So is the opposite, namely inspiration, which amateurs are also very fond of. Putting it another way: a professional writer is someone who writes just as well when they’re not inspired as when they are.

Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman has always been very assertive regarding concepts such as inspiration and writer’s block.

It may be the teacher-ness in him, but quotes like that will always echo in my brain every time I start to get lazy about the work I need to do in order to bring to life what I want to contribute to the world.

While I’ve never played the “writer’s block” or “inspiration” cards, I’ve leaned on my chronic mental dispersion as an excuse to never finish what I start – unless there’s a commission or a deadline, which makes me feel more like a mercenary for the belles-lettres than anything else.

alethiometer_John Goodinson
the Alethiometer, by John Goodinson

Reviving this blog has helped in ways I’m only now starting to realize (I would have never written anything this long, for example).

In my daily, life-long struggle with self-discipline, there is no bigger motivation than feeling the skill in your craft growing stronger and steadier. Of working until you can see the rust fading.

All of a sudden, you begin to notice that it doesn’t take you so long to remember the right word or come up with the exact image you want to convey – and how it all starts flowing a little bit better and a little bit faster each time.

Write like a bee. You will always get the honey.

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