Usually, I approach the blank screen of a word processing document like a piece of paper and a box of new crayons. Or, armed with one of those fancy, most likely turquoise colored gel pens, I am poised above this pristine sheet of paper about to say something. What am I going to say, though? Well, it depends. I might be thinking about making an entry to my blog about channeling. Actually, I’ve been wanting to make an entry in that blog for over a week now and haven’t settled upon what it is I want to talk about, so that particular creative effort hasn’t resulted in anything worth printing.
Or, like tonight I just find myself at the edge of the forest and really don’t know which path I’m going to take. I don’t really have any particular destination tonight other than just sort of cracking my creative knuckles. Maybe this will end up in The Spirit Moved Me Blog. Maybe it will end up in my journal. It also could also just as easily get deleted. The last three or four things I’ve written have been consigned to the depths of the trash can, though with a word processor all you have to do is a ctrl A and then hit your delete key and it is gone.
So, this sounds sort of interesting. Deleting. Destroying. Writing and then deleting it. You wrote it. Nobody read it. You didn’t even read it again. You just deleted it. But, did the 30 minutes you spent writing something count for anything when you just got rid of it? I think it did. I think the stuff you write and then either file away forever never to be read by anybody again or the stuff you write and then ball up and toss or delete is important stuff. These thoughts that you’ve taken from your head and laid out on paper are the beginnings of something of worth. You think it’s important enough to talk about it, whatever “it” is. You take the time to mull it over in your head and begin the process of putting “it” on paper. And, either somebody, someday is going to read it and be entertained, or enlightened or not. But, you will have reached out and touched the essence of somebody else for the moment in time it took them to read something you had written. It was a connection of sorts. It’s like catching somebody’s eye, a stranger’s eye, smiling at them and having them smile back at you. You’ll never talk. You’ll never see this person again. But, you connected for a few seconds. And, that was important.
The thoughts you think, the feelings you feel and want to express go onto paper (or screen). And, you decide, “No. This is not right.” And you delete it all. It’s gone. Did it never happen? No, I think you are changed because you wrote it in the first place. Somehow you have connected with what you are feeling and translated into words. But, you deleted it. Fine. So what? It was 3,000 words. So what? You’ll do it again and the next time you’ll do it you’ll be able to do it faster and be clearer about the whole thing. But, the first bout was absolutely necessary. You needed to try your wings here. You needed the opportunity to see what it felt like to try to describe whatever it was you were feeling right then.
This sounds picky. This sounds like you need to be on medication.
No, it’s just one aspect of the creative effort that involves deleting things. It’s how a writer can write a book and then go back and edit it without getting hung up on thinking they are destroying their book. So, save the pieces you are deleting. Maybe you can use them somewhere else in a different project. Maybe you can rework it all into a separate essay.
And, sometimes more than just connecting with another person the time you spend writing something could be for you alone. Maybe you’ve been puzzling over something for awhile. Something has been bothering you and you just want to sort of explore why it is you’re acting the way you have been acting. Or, maybe you want to discover why you seem to be attracting every asshole this side of the Mississippi River into your life. All I can say is you’re a magnet. Or, like attracts like. Maybe writing about this you’ll get that old lightbulb floating above your head to go on and say, “Oh, shoot. I’ve been afraid about x and taking it out on y.”