At one time or another, writer’s apathy has dragged me down. The usual tips and tricks won’t work. Well, there’s one way I always manage to resolve that apathy. It’s taking a word or phrase and breaking down its meanings to better understand the true meaning of a word’s implications and connotations.
This is when I’ll write something like a definition essay. In this case, the word resolve has been on my mind recently. Interestingly enough, one definition of resolve does mean to break down something.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, resolve can be either a noun or a verb. In its noun form, it simply means “a firm determination to do something.” When I think of resolve in this way, it tends to lead to dents forming in the wall and slight concussions to my brain. Simply resolving to resolve in that way often leads to a loss of sanity when it comes to overcoming writer’s apathy.
As a verb, resolve becomes a fair bit more juicy, with three potential definitions.
1. Settle or find a solution to a problem, dispute or contentious matter.
Trying to resolve writer’s apathy diplomatically has always been a much too temporary fix for me. It usually involves rewarding myself somehow. My writing doesn’t work well when it’s forced into a routine. There needs to be some force behind it.
Settling rarely works for me either. In my writing, I feel I always have to be going somewhere. Sort of like a stream of consciousness, I have to let the ideas fall where they may and not force any sort of structure on them.
For those that wish me to write more regularly, I resolve to simply let the mercurial nature of my words remain. I don’t wish to find myself forcing out syllable after stressed syllable just to meet a deadline.
2. Decide firmly on a course of action
Well, then, it seems I have come to resolve one way out of writer’s apathy. Be apathetic to conventional wisdom when it comes to forcing the words. Sure, it works for some people, but many of us are not “some people.”
Sure, I can grind out a few hundred words a day. But even then, my writing sometime leaves me feeling quite unfulfilled. Perhaps it’s time I resolve to resolve what I’m looking to actually get out of my writing, huh?
Conveniently, the Oxford Dictionaries’ third definition fits this train (wreck) of thought perfectly…
3. Separate or cause to be separated into components
So let’s resolve writer’s apathy by this definition.
- I don’t care about what I’m writing
- I don’t care who I’m writing for
- I don’t care if I write at all.
Sadly, that is pretty much writer’s apathy when it comes to me. It typically follows this beaten path. Usually, I begin with losing interest in a topic I’ve been assigned or even one I resolved to write for myself. I then find myself losing focus when it comes to who I’m writing for. I end up many times simply writing for my own sake to keep myself productive. After a bit of that, I simply don’t care to write at all.
Sometimes, there are various degrees of fatigue and manners of unavoidable circumstances that contribute to writer’s apathy. But it typically follows the same pattern for me. Wow, I feel somewhat pathetic resolving my dilemma in that way. But I believe most of us writers have been there.
So let’s circle back to our first verbal definition. How do we find solutions to these three components? What sort of esoteric abstract chemist’s madness can we resolve here?
(First, a quick aside. The Middle English origins of the word resolve in fact derives from the sense of dissolving or disintegrating something… or to solve a problem… the more common definition. In Latin resolver means something like expressing intensive force to loosen something. So we are delving into the very root of this word it would seem.)
Find something to care about and stick to it.
Even if the topic itself is something you couldn’t care less about, finding a way to resolve it in such a way that it makes you care about the prose you’re producing can go a long way to beating the apathy upfront.
Know your audience, even if that audience is purely meant to be yourself.
Sure, understanding your audience is one of the major pillars of being a good writer – or something like that. But sadly you’re not always going to care about what the audience of a particular assignment really wants. You’re just going to write it your way and tweak it if necessary later if it’s requested.
But going out of a comfort zone can be a healthy dose of medicine for the apathetic writer. You need to care about your growth as a communicator of ideas and the growth of those reading your work as well. Plant seeds of knowledge. You can’t make readers care, but if you care about what you are writing, it shows in the work.
“Just write” sounds good in theory, but is it in practice?
It’s a cruel irony in writing that the only way to improve is to write, even if it blows chunks. Whenever I force myself to write something, it may appear OK to readers, but it’s probably just another piece of content in their eyes. Keep in mind as you write that the better your writing is, the more that you help your reader visualize your ideas, you are doing them a great service.
Reading is the best proven way to expand the human mind. Make sure that the words your readers are resolving in their minds are worth their valuable time on this earth. Otherwise eventually the apathy will set in, and could even, heavens forbid, lead to even the promise of a paycheck not being enough motivation to turn out anything resembling your best work.
So what is my resolution to overcome writer’s apathy? Just write… but resolve what I resolve to write in such a way to break it down and find a new perspective on the topic at hand. That may just be the trick for resolving such horrible writing apathy once and for all.
When I resolve to write these definition types of essays, I often wonder what may be lost in translation for my non-English readers. The very “rich” nature of my native language opens itself up to a wide array of definition essay style prosaic pieces. In other words, so many English words have so many different official and unofficial definitions that the angles to take can be many.
But I believe the way in which I am choosing to resolve these essays makes it easy to follow my foray into the English definitions and how I personally interpret them. Definition essays work for any language. Sometimes, you just have to dig a bit deeper.
What does the word resolve mean to you? I’m always curious to see how things translate. Perhaps this sort of definition discovery is what every writer needs once in awhile, to question the very words we use every day and put them in perspective, no matter what language we may use.