You’re not as wise as you think
Writing this week has been a struggle. I think we all have those weeks. Fighting against self-doubt is pretty standard stuff, feeling like Jackson Pollack when you’re really aiming for that Van Gogh look, but for whatever reason this week was particularly tough.
If I were to describe this week as a meal, it would be a side of worrying about the unyielding passage time with an extra helping of existential dread.
If I were to describe this week as a routine, it would be banging your head against the wall and then apologizing to the wall for the pain you caused it.
If I were to describe this week as a beat, it would be a steady drumbeat mixed with distortion so loud your ears bleed.
I think you get the picture.
Writers in some ways have the hardest job in the world. It’s the easiest to get into, but the most devastating to fail at. You’re your own critic. It’s just you in there and the default position for all of us is that you’re not good enough. It’s ironically our fear of rejection by others that predicates that little voice in our head’s endless crusade to bury our writing into the ground, never to see the light of day. Is what I’m writing worth saying? Am I just regurgitating what I’ve read? Probably, but does it matter?
Here are some calming things I’ve realized:
I used to think distractions were the thing that held me back. It’s not. I’ve found that in today’s busy environment, you have to write wherever. Never be afraid to pull the notebook or iPad out. At work, at the doctor’s office, at the DMV, and the pharmacy, you have to take those moments where you can. Write often. It doesn’t necessarily have to be everyday or for a set time, but I’d say write as often as you can, even if you’re not trying to be writer. It helps.
And I swear if I could convince my inner most self that my work will never be seen, I think that would make my whole job easier. Maybe it would loosen its grip on everything: intuition, inspiration, emotion. All of it would flow a lot easier, like the floodgates of a dam being swung open. I’d promptly vomit magic and wisdom onto the page and everyone would revere me as a visionary and thought leader. It’s not that easy though, because nothing’s that easy.
Writing about writing tends to provide a nice interlude.
I’d say the thing I’m most concerned with as most people I’d imagine would be, is making my mark before I go. It’s meaning, a feeling that I’ve created something and that people have been changed by it. That’s what keeps me up at night, fueling my insecurities and that nagging voice.
And as in many other instances, I’ve found honesty is the best policy. It’s a cliché because it’s true. In writing, being honest with yourself helps. You’re not as smart as you think you are, but you’re also not nearly as dumb. It’s okay if you haven’t cracked a particular piece yet. It happens. It’s also okay to write about a million different things.
In a tough week, writing about writing tends to provide a nice interlude. Writing about how it feels to struggle and how it feels to succeed. It does wonders for your self-esteem. You may have reached a road block on that grandiose piece you were planning about the rising trend of whatever in whatever, but that doesn’t matter because the goal is to always be writing. Every writer has written about writing in their career; thus making it a valid and perhaps more noble subject to explore than that other thing you were thinking about.
In the end, it’s never so important to focus on the subject to a fault. Just write.
If you liked this post, here are a few others I’ve written that you might enjoy: