The Post-It Notes of a Non-Writing Writer

Posted: May 15, 2011 in graffiti living

an exercise in ideas on post it notes - Inha Leex Hale

“Writing sustains me. But wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that it sustains this kind of life? Which does not, of course, mean that my life is any better when I don’t write. On the contrary, at such times it is far worse, wholly unbearable, and inevitably ends in madness. This is, of course, only on the assumption that I am a writer even when I don’t write – which is indeed the case; and a non-writing writer is, in fact, a monster courting insanity.”
–Franz Kafka, to Max Brod, July 5, 1922

I’ve no idea how these fragments are all connected – but they are.

The world is not a cat toy for you to play with. The internet is wonderful, but it’s a glitterball of distraction. And you know how much you like shiny things.

You miss your friends, but you need to carve time and space to write. You’re still trying to distinguish in your life between fake connectedness and real connection, both on and offline.

You’re sick of fair-weather friends, but just when you dismiss everyone as being that, a surprising handful of people come through for you in ways that you can’t even begin to express or reciprocate. Although you’re more than willing to give it a go!

It’s disingenuous when writers discourage other people from writing, no matter how badly. Just as it’s maddening when celebrities throw a strop on social media sites because they aren’t met with universal love and approval. Besides, their tweets ARE boring.

You accept that no-one reads your blog and decide that it’s time to pull the plug. Then you’re shocked to receive lovely comments and enjoy interesting discussions with people you’ve never met and probably never will meet. Conversations about stuff that you care about, and that wouldn’t have been possible in any other medium. And you’re awestruck by that – it means so much more to you than celebrities having hissy fits on the internet.

At the end of the day, it isn’t about any of this at all. It’s just you whingeing because you want to write but feel like life will eat away at you on all sides until there’s nothing left. Writing is like banging a head full of words against a brick wall made from fear, lack of talent, and blank pages. But if you write in Helvetica Bold, you can do no wrong.

It all comes back to the typewriting monkey. You love the public domain picture that you stumbled across of a typewriting monkey. It’s about writing. It imitates Japanese brush art. And it’s a monkey. So, whaddya think you’d do but love it?!

‘Do Not Disturb – I’m Disturbed Already’ smacks of a million t-shirt designs, but when you place that text alongside the picture, it suggests that a typewriting monkey is a deranged animal. Which is exactly what writers are: deranged monkeys that just want to be left alone, so that we can get our work done.

  1. Those thoughts about the internet is exactly why I left twitter!

  2. C. R. Lanei says:


    I was lucky enough to be online prior to the big influx via social networking and the whole notion that your self on the internet should be the same self as offline. I think part of the magic of online friends is that creativity is about not having just one central self that works 9-5, eats, shits and sleeps and regardless of who the people talking to you say they are it was always more about what they said to you than who they actually might be.

    Definitely don’t pull the plug on the blog or the tweets–sometimes I think commenting or responding is something that doesn’t happen because people aren’t sure if they have an intelligent or witty response yet. I love both the blog and your tweets. Weirdly twitter was not something I thought I would like but when you follow the right sorts of people its like sitting in a crowded restaurant and getting the hear the most interesting people talk (rarely the famous ones I might add). Though I do understand the time factor of the internet, lately I cruise through and then disappear into projects feeling terrible for not interacting a bit more than lurking.

    Keep writing. Clearly it runs through you like blood or a chronic infection–maybe a bit of both?

  3. RAFrenzy says:

    James, you need some hot Brit actor on your banner. Yes, I’m kidding — sort of. : D

  4. bZirk says:

    I’m glad you’re not pulling the plug, and I love how the cyber audience gives new meaning to six degrees of separation. I also love your honesty. Keep it up!

    @clvrwitch, I prefer Garamond as well. I think it’s the serifs.

  5. Rumena says:

    Does writing about not writing count as writing? If it does – I like your writing. If something is relatable as your writing – then it’s honest. We all seem to have the same insecurities, so thumbs up for expressing it that well.
    The question is though, does this writing feel as the other writing you’re writing about? Is it as fulfilling as the other one is believed to be?
    Or is it just a way to feel better about your writing without challenging yourself?
    The toughest block we need to cope with lies within ourselves. The fear of trying something new, the fear of dealing with unknown problems; the fear of overcoming these problems! Fear of the responsibility achieving might bring.
    No, that’s too much for us – let’s just stay where we are, glooming about what we’re afraid to try, because it’s unknown. Because there’s no comforting shoulder to cry on when we’re achieving – no one likes achievers because they show just how weak the other people are. Not that achievers are any stronger – they need a shoulder to cry on, too. But they are afraid they won’t find this shoulder and prefer to stay with the comforting shoulder of non-achieving. Oh how warm and cosy this is!

  6. clvrwitch says:

    Personally, I prefer Garamond. Just saying.

    It seems odd to say, but in many ways, my online friends understand me in ways that my offline friends never will. Perhaps because, I lay more of my cards on the table. It’s been said of me, by people I see face-to, every day, that I’m ‘hard to get to know’. I’m not sure my online friends would agree. Lol!

    Oddly enough, while I agree that celebrity whining isn’t very interesting, I have celebrities to thank for meeting some of the most interesting people I’ve had the privelege of knowing (none of whom are famous, yet, but definitely should be). I greatly admire each of them for their wit, talent, creativity, honesty, and passion.

    “You miss your friends, but you need to carve time and space to write. You’re still trying to distinguish in your life between fake connectedness and real connection, both on and offline.” — This bit struck me the most (even more than the Kafka quote), largely because I find it harder to carve out time for my friends, than time to write, although, on the whole, I agree with these statements completely.

    There is something I’ve noticed, and I’m choosing to point it out, later, rather than sooner. I know this is your blog, where you lay bits of your soul bare, and its not directed personally, at any single individual, but it has a personal FEEL to it. That’s one of the things I admire most about your writing. It’s a unique voice. Or maybe these bits of wisdom were just what I needed to read, at the end of a long, frustrating day. Either way, thank you. 🙂

  7. Michael says:

    The internet is certainly an intriguing place. At first it was a place for people to hide, now it is a place people go to be found. Friends offline are often better kept that way. Friends online, I feel, are different, they are found through shared interests, or shared goals, rather than through geography. An online friend is not there to judge, or intrude, they are there when you need them, almost at your beck and call. Offline friends, however, can cook dinner, so they win out in some circumtances.

    As for writing. I’m good at it when I do it. But I’m also good at not doing it. And I don’t blame anything or anyone other than myself for that. There’s always tomorrow, I think. But tomorrow is as short as today, so better now than never.

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