Since last month, I have stopped watching TV shows, movies, YouTube videos, and have stopped listening to songs, podcasts, radio channels, and to other people. This was all paramount, and critically vital, in my taking the next step towards writing. I now only play video games, read books, and write. And, of course, I eat and drink and piss and shit and fuck and indulge, involuntarily, in other menial carnal activities without which I’d stop thriving.
It’s not that I’ve decided to pause all my other indulgences against my will. I tapered them off gradually. There was a point in my life when I was popping 2 movies per day and snorting 5-6 episodes of TV-shows in between. I hate that junction, now, in hindsight. I tapered it off to one movie per week and one episode per day. Songs I stopped listening when my favorite artists started dropping dead like bug-sprayed houseflies– all of a sudden, all at once.
Television is poisonous to a budding writer’s creativity, according to Father Stephen King. He says that they need to look into themselves and access the creativity within them, the imagination that reels dreams on your mind’s screen while you sleep. Picture your muse, that fellow that lives inside the basement of your mind (how oxymoronic!) , and now picture what a constant supply of television is doing to him. He’s fucking become a couch potato, snacking on stale popcorn and fizzed out, three-day-old coke because he’s too lazy to get off his ass and go to the store to buy new one.
Mom’s one of those South Baptist church ‘Hallelujah God be praised’ ladies, always with her rosary and her bible in hand, always going on about the rapture and how our sinful ways are inciting God’s wrath. In doing her part to protect her children from said wrath and preparing us for the hereafter, she banished television from her house, and we grew up with no cable, no nothing. When I grew up and got a laptop, and a computer monitor, I watched everything to my heart’s content. But I feel bad about it now, as I said before, in hindsight.
I have started reading a lot. Mostly Stephen King, some Neil Gaiman, a little George R.R Martin, and some fantasy/science fiction magazines like Clarkesworld and Deep Magic. When I am not reading, I am writing, and when I am not doing both, I am gaming, because in my opinion, it’s the most sophisticated form of entertainment media. There’s music, cinematography, story narration, art, and just about everything that makes good literature, good literature. Play The Witcher 3 or the Last Of Us or the Uncharted series or Grand Theft Auto V, and you’ll see what I mean. You have to rely on your creativity in games.
And now, the people. Why I stopped listening to them. I discovered, for the billionth time, that they’ve mostly nothing good to say. Other than a few, no more than one or two, most people try to bring you down, try to speak shit to your face, and force down your throat the hurdles and impossibilities that they think you are going to face and fail as a result of.
“You’re a Muslim writer in a world where people hate Muslims. You’ll never be published”
“Your grammar sucks ass, and most of what you write is crass”
“What dignity is there in ghostwriting? I would never write for someone else. I can’t see how you’d whore your writing like that”
“Literature is dying. People have stopped reading books. You’re better off in the field of study you’re in: Computer Science….”
You get the idea. People spew shit. Fuck ’em. It only adds to your self-doubt when you hear your own hidden apprehensions coming out from some asshole’s mouth.
That’s why I have stopped doing what I’ve stopped doing and started doing what I did. I lack a lot of skills, and my art/talent can take me only so far in its rough form. I need to learn the laws of grammar and editing, I need to better my craft by reading and writing as much as I can.
Cigarettes are my only vice. I think everyone’s allowed one.
This hermitization has been healthful for me. And I only want to become more ascetic, more disciplined as I strive to become a better writer, and most of all, a better human being, though it may not be clear to you how such abstinence may make me that, but I think my bible thumping mother might have a point that’d clarify how.
I want to be mellower and take things slow. Up til now I have been rushing everything; I’d get out of the exam hall at half time, skip through drudgerous parts in books, pedal my bike at 30 km per hour, write my stories as fast as I could… All that needed to stop. I needed to slow down, and my new regimen has been very helpful in doing that.
If you are adamant about your passion
and want to see your dreams through
you know it in your heart then
what it is that you need to do