Let me tell you a secret.
Most of the time when I sit down to write this blog, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write about until I start typing.
The basis of an idea or two will be there in the back of my brain, somewhere between the part which knows whether we’ve got any crisps in the house and the section dedicated to begging me to PLEASE just get up earlier, but it won’t be fully formed; no more than a single word scribbled on the back of a receipt followed by a question mark.
And today is just the same as any other. We sat next to some people who were clearly on a first date a couple of nights ago in a restaurant which I thought I could write about, the differences between our approaches to each other being so hilariously different. But I don’t really feel like dissecting that today, perhaps another time. We also spent this weekend in the company of many excellent friends and it’s filled me up with happiness and joy at all the great people that I know, but also intrigued me about how energy sapping the idea of lots of socialising can sometimes feel after a busy week, and how you forget that the reality is entirely energising – like a good gym class but without the sweating – but that’s for another day. To be honest, I’m pretty knackered.
No, the thought that is holding on most strongly in my head today is the idea of just not really having a firm idea. That in itself is worth talking about.
Sometimes I find that I reach a bit of a wall. Like that feeling when you’re standing in the supermarket feeling anything but hungry, trying to decide what to buy for dinner. You just wander around aimlessly, hoping that a meal will walk into your basket and solve all your problems. And that it will involve cheese. I mean, obviously you know that you want cheese.
It causes you to stop – if (hopefully) just for a short time – and wonder what will happen next to get you back on track. Perhaps all will become clear once you’ve had a little sleep, or a good conversation will get you the clarity that you need, or maybe just sitting down and making a good list will be the answer to all your problems. I do like a good list.
Take this blog, for example. Where is it going? When am I finally going to give it the makeover it needs? And when I do, what else will come with it? What’s my big plan here? And then there’s other things – I have two books in my head (yes it does hurt and yes you are funny!) and bits of them have made their way onto paper, but there’s so much more to do. What’s going on with them? Which one do I want to focus on? Are they definitely good ideas? How does anybody ever know the answer to that question?
Sometimes I know all of the answers to these questions and sometimes I have absolutely no idea whatsoever – it’s like you’re asking me for the very first time. And I’m sure it happens to everybody. People on the internet can appear so polished, so sorted. But that can’t always be the case; everybody must hit a wall or two sometimes. I’m pretty sure it’s not just a running thing.
I think that what helps get your focus back in these situations is knowing at your core that you want to do the thing – whatever it might be – even if you’re not precisely sure how you’re going to go about it. When I wake up in the middle of the night, once I’m done worrying about whether everybody I know and love is safe and well, and wondering whether I need the toilet or if I’ve remembered to lock the front door, it’s writing that I think about. What I’m going to do next, whether that idea about first dates is good (or just evidence that I’m jealous of people who are younger than me…) and just how I can find more time to get more and more words into the right order.
And that is more than enough to keep me going.