Anna-Leena Harkonen


Otava / Jouni Harala 


A Whole New World

Once I complained to a colleague that I had not been able to write for more than fifteen minutes that day.

“It’s a nudge forward,” she said, comforting me. “Even if you can’t come up with more than just one sentence, it’s still something.”

So I keep telling myself: “Don’t try to write the whole book. Write one page. One sentence. A word.”

SOMETIMES I must force myself to write, and sometimes I need to give myself permission to rest and trust that my subconsciousness keeps working.

Lazing around is vital for writing. A writer should never feel rushed.

And how can you tell when you need to force yourself and when you should give up?

You can’t.

THERE IS nothing romantic or glamorous about the anguish of creativity. It’s exasperating—like trudging through a swamp.

Sometimes writing means tormenting yourself. Guilt. Sleepless nights. Anxiety. Depression. Seething self-disgust.

Sometimes I blame writing for my anxiety. Am I anxious because I write? Or do I write because I’m anxious?

Sometimes I think seriously about what I will become when I grow up.

I CAN SEE that I tend to complain about writing. Perhaps I should also talk about the joy—for there is great joy in writing.

There is joy when the sentences seem to stream out as if by accident, with no effort. When you are immersed in the thoughts and images pouring from your stream of consciousness, and you can just receive.

There is also mystique in writing.

It’s incredible to be able to create a completely new world. And when writing runs smoothly, everything else in life runs smoothly.

Published with permission from Markku Turunen

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