I’ve been writing since I was a young kid.
My days were spent watching Disney movies and reading chapter books about animal veterinarians. So at that point, everything I wrote was a re-hash of things I’d seen or read, but with different names and slightly varied hair colors. In grade school, I entered a writing contest by re-working a Neil Shusterman book into a short story. I won first place, which only confirmed my suspicions that I was a great writer. Sure, I still had some self-doubt. In fact, I deleted every trace of that story on my computer so that no one else could read it. But it was my first, somewhat original story, and I was proud of it.
I started to write with intention in high school.
At least, somewhat. I was binging on Nicholas Sparks novels and YA romance and then trying to write like I knew anything about love at 15 years old. Spoiler alert, I didn’t. My writing wasn’t particularly noteworthy, but I kept writing anyway. I wrote because I was inspired, which made what wasn’t extraordinary feel like it was. Because even if I had no original content, I had excitement. And with excitement came a voice that felt like mine, even if the stories were not.
Then came college, where things changed.
As they always do. I started to lose myself along with my ability to put pen to paper. I thought about writing. And I wanted to write. But I didn’t. At least not for enjoyment. Thanks to being and English major, my writing energy was spent on research and term papers. I took creative writing classes to try and force inspiration, but only ever threw words on a page at the last minute and hoping they landed in a somewhat cohesive order. And feeling like they probably didn’t.
I learned a lot about how to write well, but that came with a cost.
Writing well doesn’t always mean good writing. It means it’s clear, not creative or inspired. I was so focused on grammar and word choice and sentence structure that there was little room left for interest and creativity and inspiration. So I wrote a lot and I wrote well, but I’m not so sure it was good writing.
Occasionally, I would have moments of inspiration.
That’s how I wrote this post I published in Thought Catalog in 2014. Funny thing is, I barely remember writing it. All I know is I sat down in bed one afternoon and I was struck with some words that I couldn’t help but spill out into a Word document. The next thing I knew, the words were there. I like it, it was finished, and I wondered what I was supposed to do with it. So I published the words because I liked them. But in reading it back, it doesn’t feel like I wrote it. The words don’t feel familiar. I think I liked them because I felt detached from them.
As time goes on, I’m finding these moments of inspiration come less and less.
I can’t help but think that awareness comes with a price. Like they say, ignorance is bliss. The more I learn about writing, the more I become aware that I am writing. I am no longer getting lost in the blissful ignorance of inspiration. I am just writing, word after word after mundane word. And the more words I write, the more the magic gets lost in the mechanical.
The more I write, the more I find that writing may be more like fixing a car than a creative art.
And as I keep going, I start to discover that I have no idea how to fix a car. I’m just moving pieces around until I find the right fit. The only problem is that, with writing, I’m not sure there is ever a “right fit.” Maybe there is just “good” and “slightly better.” And the more I learn, the more I realize that I’ve moved further away from “slightly better.” It’s like moving two steps back every time you think you’ve gone a step further.
So maybe it’s good to be critical.
Maybe that means I’m getting better. Or at least willing to push a little harder. I can’t know for sure. All I can say is maybe I just need to be a little kinder to myself. Because even if I’m pushing a boulder down a long and unending road, I am still gaining strength. And one day, I’m sure, that strength will be useful to me. If only to punch self-doubt in the face.
For more posts like this, please visit my website.
You Might Also Like
This Is Why You Live In The Feeling Of Your Thinking And Experience Life From Inside Out
You Are Fearfully, Wonderfully Made! OWN ALL OF IT!