When I was a child I had a book called something like Creative Writing for Children. I found it when my Mum and I were in a bookshop – she’d said I could get any one book I wanted, and I decided to get the one that would help me write as many books as I pleased.
(Even aged about 7, my instinct was MORE BOOKS MORE PLEASE).
I’d started doing well in English classes at school, and recently got the idea that Writing was a Big Important Serious Thing. Suddenly it seemed much more intimidating than the note-scribbling, story-telling word play I’d been doing for years in pleasant ignorance.
The first page of this book as stuck with me ever since. It was quite directive, laid out in serious bullet points in an humorless font and went a little like this:
1. Take out a piece of paper. It should be new and clean and smooth.
2. Take out a pencil or a pen. Your Choice.
3. Look at the paper and hold the pen (or pencil), thinking Deep Thoughts.
4. Scribble all over the paper, then tear it into tiny pieces. Scrumple it up, throw it over your shoulder! Show that paper who’s boss!
I’ve remembered it all these years, as well as how it felt to “waste” paper so wantonly, because it helped make writing fun and silly again – something that I was already beginning to lose. There was room for drawings in the book and it asked ridiculous questions with no right answers – it was ideal for the child I was because it was a ramp into play (which can sometimes be scary, after all) and it looked like homework (which was something I usually felt confident about).
That one exercise taught me how the barriers to writing grow in your mind, like weeds. They need regular and determined clearing out, to let the light and air in.
All of this came back to me, after days and weeks of wanting to get back to blogging and feeling that I didn’t have anything important enough to say, that nothing was quite right.
Nothing is ever quite right, but it can be enough – and sometimes that’s perfect.