I Miss Writing When I Didn’t Want to Be a Better Writer
There was a time when I didn’t want to make a living as a writer — a time when the idea was enough and having comments on my blog was all I wrote for.
I couldn’t tell you if I tried. This piece you’re reading isn’t one I would normally write if I was stuck in that create or die mode that has brought me more pain and unproductivity than not.
There is joy in creation. There is beauty in making things for the sake of making them. I have felt this.
I used to not care about how good my writing was. I used to have conversations with people who had read my writing and it was never about the style, or format.
It was about feeling.
But how do you make people feel using words if you’re not obsessed with being better at using words?
How do I overcome the dread I have each time I start on a page?
I could begin by giving up on writing the best thing ever and just write. But my brain catches up with me midway into the article and tries to edit while I write — which, as you know, is not a healthy way to write.
I could also keep writing and try to not put so much pressure on myself.
Now, this — this is helping.
Simply showing up, considering the dread and writing anyway.
What you are reading, for example, as I type these words, is written for the sole purpose that I don’t want it in my head.
The greatest pressure I feel comes from putting the feeling before the words.
That doesn’t work. The words must come first. The edit second. The feeling? Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. It’s not assured no matter how many words I put down, but if there are no words down, then certainly the feeling will never come.
You may never publish a book even if you write it, but you will never publish a book if you don’t write it.
When I started blogging in 2012, it was a lanky page, full of love stories and poems and terrible, terrible reviews of all kinds of things: books, music, TVshows. I smile just thinking of it.
It was my spot in the world where I could scream to the abyss and maybe have someone respond — maybe not. Either way, my voice flowed through my fingers and I sensed myself becoming a part of a larger whole.
My obsession with making a living is constraining this whole. It’s a healthy obsession if you ask me. Being an adult requires it. Bills must be paid, humans must be fed.
Tying the necessities of life to a source of joy — especially prematurely — destroys both the source and life.
There is no chance I can make a living as a writer if I stay this way. And it is more clear to me each day that I come to the page that until I find that joy, I will definitely never make a living the way I want.
So, how do I find it?
By showing up, letting go, and letting the words flow.
It’s how I used to do it: I’d have a conversation with a friend, come back home fuming with anger or soothing with joy, I’d turn on the computer and not think about money, nope.
What happened throughout the years was that I would think about the money, get upset or happy, and then write. Wrong order!
There is no joy for me; none for you. Who am I kidding?
I miss those days. But I don’t miss who I was — I did not experience enough to understand the power of words. I did not see myself through the eyes of a lover, I did not question the color of my skin or care for anyone other than me.
It was a sort of reckless abandon that would, of course, be filled with youthful burst and Galant words. It was what I needed at the time.
What I need now, like you who may have moved past a certain stage in your life, is an acceptance of your circumstances, your gifts, and your self.
I think writing, like nearly everything, can teach a lot about who you are: how you think, how you see the world, and especially, what matters to you.
This feeling I keep talking about comes out through the words you use, your sentence arrangements, your vocabulary, punctuations, the books you consume, quotes you use, etc.
You cannot write a lot and not discover how you see the world.
Writing is like time travel in that way that you can step out of an emotion — just long enough to observe it as if it weren't yours.
So, even if you miss the time when you used to write prolifically, or with more zest and exuberance, I believe you can see through the words on the page to catch the lessons you had to learn to be where you are today.
It’s not always that “life happened and you couldn’t write or read”. Sometimes, you changed. You grew up. You had no need for it.
Often, you neglected it.
You know spilled milk has no place on this path and all this is a nostalgic ode to a time when life was different — not easier or harder, just different.
Today, I write with more certainty. Almost more confidence. I stand by my words and enjoy how much I can stand it when I don’t get reads or comments. I can admire the personal growth and the struggles I have overcome.
You shouldn’t forget the good when looking at the past.
It’s easy to ignore our personal successes and focus solely on how bad things were (are).
As much as I miss those days, I am aware that they never left. If I have written that way before and found so much joy in sharing my words without attaching it to money, I can do it again.
If I could write fiction that made me travel, and poetry that got me crying, I can do it again.
If I could start conversations that met offline and inspire others to live their own lives, I can do it again.
And guess what?
Whatever you think you’ve lost, that ability to find joy, make things or be happy?
You can get it back.
You can do it again.
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