I've been in kind of a writing and thinking rut lately.
I think part of it is the creeping realization that doing research and writing is often about asking interesting questions and (almost) less about doing the actual research. However, that places such a huge and often misguided emphasis on having that eureka question rather than the disciplined, persistent practice of thinking out loud and writing multiple shitty drafts. I think the reason why writing this blog is so fun (and honestly easy, at least by comparison) is that there is a concrete question to answer, and the answer is relatively finite and not subject to too much critique. (I am still thin skinned about my writing, but above all there feels like like way less pressure to write here than, say, a major magazine or scholarly venue.) There's nothing quite like the weight of expectation to kill my creativity or willingness to think in public, even though this is as public a venue as any other.
Anyways, I say this publicly to dispel any myth that writing somehow comes easily to me, but also in part to seek commiseration with my fellow writers. The antidote to these things I've read about are like the general advice to eat healthily and exercise regularly: cultivate a regular writing practice, find writing partners or a support group, write bad drafts early and often. But, like exercise, it is frustratingly difficult to implement, and every day I fail to start is another reminder that I cannot complete even the simplest of tasks.
This hurts (partially) because I aspire to do what a colleague did, which is to write a book that is "an x-ray of my brain," which sometimes seems like an impossible task. There is something about the act of creating that is at once so wonderfully painful and occasionally exhilarating, as the Ghibli classic "Whisper of the Heart" demonstrates. I've included an analysis of the film from one of my favorite YouTube channels, Accented Cinema, below.
I don't have anything particularly insightful or eloquent to say about writing other than the fact that it feels like the gut-wrenching, vulnerable process that is opening your thoughts to an audience, imagined or real. Dear reader, if you are struggling with the herculean task of writing and thinking in any form, know that I stand with you in solidarity: may we both find some respite soon in the catharsis of finishing a draft. May the words be ever in your favor.