The Itch

May Sarton wrote in Journal of a Solitude, “I hardly ever sit still without being haunted by the “undone” and the “unsent.”"

Many writers are often troubled by the scratching, nagging itch at the back of their minds that they must write something, something must be created, for the audience / publisher / agent / editor / readership is waiting! So they scramble to churn something out, creating self-imposed deadlines if one wasn’t already created for them, attempting to merge wittiness with cleverness with intelligence with smartness with catchiness with likability. All in one neatly edited and perfected package of words.

I think there’s a fundamental flaw in this approach. To force creation, to put pressure upon art, to exact an end product or piece by a specific date, has several drawbacks.

Understandably, there are vehicles in this world that simply do not operate without a deadline enforced. Nothing would get done otherwise. Magazines, editorials, newspapers, the TV news station, the weather report, Sunday comics and sales ads, these are just some of the classic examples of media that require deadlines in order to operate properly.

But, what is proper? Has anyone asked this question lately? What is proper isn’t always what has been done in the past. Tradition does not, or at least, should not, necessarily pass down from generation to generation without the required questions of why? and is it essential?

I think when we forget to ask those questions, we stray further away from our best selves, our highest potential, our greatest works of art, that brilliant piece of writing that will shake people to their very core for years to come.

The next time there’s an itch to be scratched, let us ask first, where did this itch come from?