There’s this thing that I do when I’m thinking about writing. I try to come up with an idea. And I think, is it new? Is it different? Will people care about it? I think about how other people will read it and how they will think about it and feel about it instead of just writing it. I want it to be relevant and enlightening. Ultimately I tend to psych myself out or start something and not finish it because it fizzles out. I have so many beginning paragraphs I should just put together a book of writing prompts.
But recently this truth has been bouncing around in my head: I’ve been doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result. I think about writing the same way every time, or rather, over-think about writing. I worry over phrasing and vocabulary, use of the passive voice, and sentence structure. And then I never write. I think about writing. I start writing. But I never really write.
I don’t trust myself to come up with anything new or good. But that’s sort of a moot point. Of course I’m going to come up with ideas and stories that are like other people. Of course other writers will be better than me. Of course their concepts and phrasing and popularity will be better than me. Ultimately that doesn’t affect my ability to write. My ability is my own. My ideas are my own as basic or as crazy or as boring or as unique as they might be, they are mine.
That’s not to say I won’t still be plagued by the fear of sounding trite or coming up with cliches. I’m pretty sure this whole blog is a writing cliche. But it’s in my head and I need to practice getting what’s in my head down on paper. That’s where I’m missing it. In my attempt to write something special I have not allowed myself to practice. As if I could just sit down one day and write a best-selling novel without any practice. Without ever learning from mistakes. Without struggling with the page. It’s arrogant and naive at the same time.
I don’t know how to edit my own work. I don’t know how to write more than 2 or 3 pages on one story. I’ve never done any of that. I don’t practice. I think about practicing. I don’t discipline myself to write every day. I think about disciplining myself to write every day.
So all that happens. I go through the whole cycle above. I recognize the need to write. I try not to over think it. I chastise myself for not being more disciplined… and then what? Now what?
Now I stop.
I stop all of that. Especially rebuking myself. Especially feeling guilty and ashamed and annoyed with myself. Because all of that is mine too. The worry the guilt the fear the arrogance the self-hate the cycle. It’s all mine. It’s part of my process. Or at least the part of process that I know. So now what? I own that. I own that process. I sit in that process. And I write. And hopefully if I can spend less time worrying about the process, I can spend more time writing about it. Or writing through it.
Because I’d like to know what the next part of my process looks like. I’d love to get to know some characters. To create them and love them and hate them and live with them for more than a single page or a single paragraph. To learn about them and from them. But I have to let myself suck for a while. I have to be able to fuck up and unknowingly copy some other writer. I have to mimic others and I have to be a little basic. And be ok with all that. And write.
Art by Ivan Rabuzin – Croatian Naive Artist