There are times, as I prepare to do a bit of writing, when I can hear a shrill, soprano voice loudly declaring, “I don’t want to do it! I don’t feel like writing!” It is not the voice of a mature adult – more like a three year old. A very willful three year old who has taken up residence in my psyche.
I’ve learned that I can effectively appease this inner toddler by stepping away from my laptop and eating strawberry jam and toast. Works like a charm. The problem is, soon thereafter other nagging, critical voices start murmuring about the writing I “should” be doing. These voices are disturbing, but usually not too loud, so a little bit of TV or shopping is normally enough to drown out their carping. At least for a while.
Eventually the nagging becomes louder and harder to ignore, and I again find myself entertaining plans to do some writing, to keep them at bay. The ever vigilant toddler notices this, of course, and starts up his wailing,”But I don’t feel like writing!” The damn toddler will keep up this caterwauling even during the times when I think I actually do feel like writing. Like I told you, he’s not particularly mature.
The other way to calm him down takes more time and effort than the jam and toast method. I bounce him on my knee and cajole him into sitting in my lap “just for a little while” to help me with my writing. I may even bribe him with the promise of jam and toast later on.
The immature, unreasonable toddler within is a bit of a pain, but more lively than my mature voices, so while I don’t want to be overly controlled by his shrieks, I also don’t want to shut him down. I want to bring that energy onto the page. The mature ones can edit it.
Optimally the impulse to write comes from a different creative source than these dueling inner voices, but even when it does, they still get into the act one way or another. We might simultaneously experience diametrically opposed feelings about writing.
Should we trust these feelings? Yes and yes.