Writing Amnesia

…is truly a Godsend. I’m not sure if anyone else has ever experienced this, but every time I look back over a manuscript, I have this faint inclination that I wrote it, but I’m never certain. I read words that I no doubt spent hours agonizing over and yet I can never remember how exactly they got there.

It’s creepy and sometimes a little terrifying. But it’s almost as if my brain has learned to repress the parts of writing that feed into that tortured artist stereotype. You know the writer’s block, the starting over, the getting stuck, the doubt, the self-loathing. These adversaries are ever-present regardless of how many books you’ve written and they’re enough to stop a novice writer in their tracks.

And yet my brain has figured out a way to combat them, temporarily and only in retrospect of course, but whatever slate gets wiped clean between the writing of each novel, it’s my secret to never giving up. Because no matter how hard writing is in that moment, the reason I’m always able to start over is because I don’t dwell on those things. Without the memories, I can’t.

Instead, every time I start something new, sure I have anxiety, but I know I’ve done it before. And even though I can’t quite remember how, I have faith. So that’s what I operate on. When I’m staring at that blank page, wondering how I’m ever going to fill it with something worth reading, I take a deep breath and just start typing. If I’ve figured it out before, I will again. I always do. That’s my personal mantra. Besides, the how is never all that important anyway. We know there are no formulas for creating art. The process is always changing and so are we.

But as long as I know finishing is an inevitability and as long as I type every word with total faith that eventually they’ll all add up to something important, then they’ll do just that.

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6 thoughts on “Writing Amnesia

  1. I’ve had that same exactly feeling before, many a time. It’s crazy how it creeps up on you, and suddenly you’re reading your own work wondering you if you actually wrote it. I bet that’s what crazy people feel like, being intimidated by your own writing.

    • Exactly! It’s really intimidating which is what used to stand in my way. But now I just try to focus on the fact that if I’ve done it before I can do it again.

  2. This writing amnesia – so familiar! I often have no recollection of the process at all. Sometimes I even read something and feel stunned I wrote it. It is definitely sort of crazy.

    • Glad to know what I’m feeling is totally normal. And I’m actually thankful that my subconscious has come up with this little coping mechanism. I honestly don’t know if I’d love writing as much as I do without it.

  3. If I take a few days away from writing a novel, I almost forget what I was writing. 😦 I’ll leave a note in the margins so I can pick up where I left off. But the feeling I had three days before is missing. It’s not the same.

    I feel like I’ll have to write an entire novel in one day. Since that’s clearly not possible. I switched to short stories until I find a solution. Glad I’m not alone with this feeling!

    • It tends to happen to me between revisions if a work. If I step away from something for more than two weeks it doesn’t become so unrecognizable that I can’t recapture the voice, but I just lose the memory of how it came to be, which for me, like I said, is actually a blessing since it allows me to focus on the discovery of writing without dwelling on the struggle.

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