When I started this blog about 11 years ago, I didn’t realize how few preoccupations I had. This meant that I could concentrate better on writing, in addition to the fact that I was a decade younger younger with more brain juice and better memory.
Nowadays, I can’t sit down to write for 15 minutes straight without being attacked by my kids (whose company I thoroughly enjoy), asked by my wife to perform a task (she works hard too), getting a phone call (in addition to the constant social media distraction), or feeling drained after a full day of doing a physically taxing health care job.
I discovered, however, that the tiredness and preoccupations needn’t be a problem. In fact, in a sense, they could actually serve as an antidote for laziness and procrastination, according the following logic: if you have less time to write, you’ll appreciate it more, therefore you’ll make more use of it and you’ll be less prone to wasting it. This, of course, is more of a justification after the fact than an actual recommended style of doing things (if you want to write, you will, regardless of the circumstances. Arabic has a proverb: if you’re intent on praying, you won’t miss prayer time). That is, I would never refuse a fully paid sabbatical if it allowed me to truly realize my writing potential, choosing instead to be willingly pressured by inane daily tasks. On the other hand, there is something about writing under siege of the quotidian that gives an enormous sense of satisfaction, even exhilaration (I know, this might sound a bit much, but forgive the choice of words, as I am surrounded by the usual distractions as we speak), especially one when is faced at last with the finished product, and it proves to have been worth the effort.
With today’s technical media, it has become more opportune to write, to fill in those inactive gaps of time that modern living imposes on us, or when engaged in supposedly important routines like commuting, or even, God forbid, work. Although I generally dislike writing on my phone, it is possible, and not so difficult, when one is jotting down poetry ideas on Google Keep. The cloud(s) conveniently allow(s) us to start writing on one device and finish on the other, and online references and readily available information leave the writer with fewer excuses to slack.
With all that being said, the most important ingredient of writing, or the messy alchemical process of transcribing one’s thoughts in a sufficiently civilized and human manner for other people to understand, is drive, determination, and not surrending to your worst self, which would counsel fast food and a numbingly stupid Netflix show over an evening of excruciating but fulfilling writing.
Car, notre pire ennemi, c’est nous-même.