I’m going through one of those phases where I’ve forgotten how to write.
It’s a phase that’s not uncommon to me, as someone who has made their crust for the past 15 years with writing in one form or other (journalism / editing / communications / whatever the particularly tedious brand of writing is called that is simply trying to persuade people to open yet another promotional email newsletter that they really just want to delete).
I think almost all writers would admit that they frequently compare themselves detrimentally to other similar writers. It was this irresistible but bad-for-the-soul trait that really diminished my enjoyment of working on a big broadsheet back in my 20s.
You’d pick up the paper every morning and look through it, reading the pieces by your friends and contemporaries most carefully.
“Great piece this morning, John,” you’d say as you bumped into John ten minutes later in the lift popping off for a fag on level one. But secretly you were thinking, “Bloody John, that turn of phrase in paragraph two was really brilliant. I’m never going to be able to construct a sentence as well as that. John’s going to get that job that I really want on the books desk and probably a reader is writing in to complain about the factual error in my piece right this very second and I’m going to get fired on the same day John gets his promotion…”
When I’m going through a bad writing phase, though, it’s not other people’s writing that is making me feel depressed, but my own. “Good god,” I think, reading some witty, intelligent and beautifully honed article I wrote a year ago. “I could really write then! That’s a great joke! That’s an insightful but deftly managed point of view I’ve put across there. I will never, never, be able to write as well as that ever again. All my best work is behind me!”
So, yup, that’s where I am right now.
My lovely friend Laura pointed her readers towards a blackberry and apple vodka recipe I posted last year. I trotted over there too, just to remember what I had said and thought, blimey, I haven’t written anything as nicely as that for a while.
Why am I telling you this? Because I’ve decided that it’s time to give myself a little bit of a break. Stop beating myself up about my lack of writing panache and instead to just ride out the lull until I get my mojo back again.
So, dear readers, if you’ve noticed a certain dullness about my posts recently, an awkward turn of phrase, a clumsy repetition, please bear with me. If my posting isn’t as frequent, it’s because I’ve written something and decided it’s all a load of rubbish and deleted it in a fit of pique. And if I haven’t made you crack a smile for a good few months, my apologies.
In the meantime, head over to my archives and check out some of my articles back from the days when I could really write… There’s a particularly tasty blackberry and apple vodka recipe you might like to start with.
13 thoughts on “On writing (and blogging)…”
Hi Sabrina, please do not worry about your blog entries! I enjoy each and every one of them – especially because of your very humorous and special writing style. (To use the terms “sprout” and “spriglet” for your sons is such a nice idea, btw). Initially I thought your blog was a lot about knitting, so I subscribed. Even though there was no knitting project in the last months, I still like reading your blog very much. Your pics are really good – but what get’s me every time is your writing!
As a print journalist I know all too well how you feel. Everytime I start out on a new piece I am convinced that I will not meet what the readers (and the editors) expect. This feeling gets worse until I am almost done. If time allows I let the text sit for one or two days and usually I am positively surprised when I read it again – and come to the conclusion that it might not be THAT bad after all.
Please keep on blogging – maybe even about a new knitting-project??
Best regards from Munich, Germany,
What a lovely comment, thanks ever so much!
Yes, completely agree about letting the text sit for a few days. Plus, I often find if I’ve not just written it, I can give it a much better edit afterwards as well!
Ahhh, knitting knitting knitting, I have to confess I am not even working on anything right now. I keep meaning to make the sproglet a nice warm cardigan and yet somehow never get round to even casting it on. The evenings are drawing in now though, so I really *must* get something onto the needles, for a bit of exhausted end-of-the-day in-front-of-the-TV knitting!
You writing is lovely but I admit I’m more of a pictures than words person so just slap up some of those beauties whenever you can.
Ha ha, don’t even get me started on the pictures — they cause even more head scratching most of the time! Thanks so much Cheryl, very delighted to know you like them!
Deleting a post because of the writting, hahahha, gosh if I did that I am not sure I would ever have posted anything ever. I love reading you whether good or bad, but I am biased because I will love whatever you write. you always make me smile!
Awww, hello number one fan in DC — I’m your number one fan in London, hee hee.
I’m quite new to your blog, but I’m loving your writing so far. I’d like to learn how to write well, I’m thinking of doing a course soon. If I could write as well as you one day I’d be very happy! CJ xx
Thanks CJ, I’m actually blushing at the loveliness of that comment!
I really don’t think that there are many of us out there that think, ‘Hey, yes, that was an amazing post I’ve just written!’ We are our own worst critics. I’ve learnt not to frog/trash/undo/delete stuff just before I go to bed. I so very often view things again in the morning and think, ‘that’s not actually that bad!’
And I know what you mean about past posts. If you pick the BEST ones, of course they are going to sound amazing!
Have a good break from the Blog and stop beating yourself up over it. xx
Such a good point! I should go and look for some *bad* old blog posts to compare too, heh heh.
Reminds me of that other maxim I always fail to bear in mind as well, “don’t compare your beginning to other people’s middles” — so tempting to make completely unreasonable comparisons when you’re just starting out on something…
I shall remember that one, thanks.
I think when it’s time to take a break, even if that breaks turns out to only be a week, then you just know. And it does come back, the urge, the spark, the ideas and you get to fall in love with it all over again.
And when you do, we’ll be here!
Hi Sabrina, I wouldn’t worry about your writing at all! I think that when it comes to blogging, it’s so easy to compare yourself to others. I find it difficult at times also. My writing is obviously no where near as articulate as your’s but I think that you just have to soldier through it. I love reading your posts and photography! xD