I’ve been so stressed about writing. Seriously. I sit down to try and get work done, and it sounds like it’ll be fun and productive, but then I start to worry about how much work I’ll actually get done, and my palms start to sweat, and I grind my teeth. I tried to figure out when this issue started to arise, and the answer was something I didn’t want to acknowledge. My MFA. The whole reason I’m having trouble writing is because of my MFA.
It may seem misleading, and it’s not to say that I can’t write now, but the way I write has changed. During my MFA, it was so fast paced that I was often times so rushed to simply create more content that I didn’t have a lot of time to fine tune what I was working on at the moment. That did change in the last semester when much more of my time could be dedicated to just my thesis, but I had somehow conditioned myself that when I sat down to write I needed to do it quickly with great strides.
The program was meant to push me, and it certainly did, but now when I sit down to write I still slip into that mentality that the work needs to be done quickly so that I can get to the other items on my agenda. That isn’t the case. There are no more papers to write, and I am not having to making a lesson plan for my creative writing class.
So, why can’t I write?
Apart from the fast paced nature of the MFA, the answer is directly in front of me: it’s me. I stress myself out when I sit down to write, and I grow continuously more anxious the longer I sit without producing something. Sometimes, I find myself getting up and working on something else that needs my attention because it relieves me of the stress of having to produce.
Writing used to be an escape, something I could use to help understand the world around me, but somewhere along the line I started forgetting the joy of writing and only focused on how I could make it better.
I need to strike a balance between the two, but it feels almost like a betrayal to say that I have trouble enjoying writing at this time in my life. I haven’t mentioned it to people because I almost feel guilty for saying something like that.
How could I feel that way when getting an MFA was what I wanted? Writing is my passion, so how could I get tired of it?
I think I got a little burnt out during my program, and it may take me some time to get to the place where I both love writing (and now have the skills to improve upon my work), but it hasn’t happened yet.
Baby steps. Each day I sit down and try not to grind my teeth. Each day I’ll remember what it was like to write without the impending school deadline.
Each day that burnt out part of me tries to spark again, and maybe sometime soon I’ll remember the joy of sitting down to a piece of paper with a pen in hand.