It’s difficult to come back to writing, especially when I’m over two months behind schedule.
Coming back means at some point in the past I quit; I had given up. Coming back means admitting defeat and failure – even if it’s just a small failure. But writing has never been a small part of my life, so failing to stay at it feels like failing to stay in contact with a really good friend that moved away. In a word: guilt.
The other day at work I had a mini epiphany: I make time to eat, partly because I enjoy food, but mostly because it keeps me healthy and functioning properly. Why should I see writing any differently? My old journals repeat the idea at me: writing helps me stay happy, sane, and in good spirits about the direction my life is taking. Apparently my past self, the one that realized over and over again how therapeutic writing can be, is pretty damn smart.
When I decided to take a break, it was because I had lost the fun and excitement of blogging. The problem I face now is that I know that feeling will return, if not tomorrow, then at some point in the not too distant future. What do I do when that happens? Push through with a few posts about how much I fear failure, how bored and despondent I am, how I should take another break in hopes of renewing my need to write? Probably none of the above.
My remedy will be to write MORE. If nothing else, the writing “self-help” books I’ve read recently have taught me one great important fact: writers who create amazing works all have one thing in common. They write. A lot. Constantly. They write about their daily lives, little things that people say, places they go, ideas for books that will probably never be written, dreams they have, strangers they see, books they read, music they hear. They write about things that don’t make sense to anyone. Yes, they can create messy, horrible essays and poems… but they also bring the most profound ideas to life through their written words. Yes, some writers create more crap pieces of work than others, but that’s because they create more work, and so have an infinitely better chance of creating something that matters.
That is what I now aspire to do.
Every day you are afraid. Every day you move through fear to your desk, and as soon as you pick up your pen, or read the sentence left over from the night before, incomplete, needing an adjustment in rhythm – a stronger verb, a slash of color or the taste of bitter herbs – in that moment of solving the problems all fear dissolves. You are writing again.
– Sophy Burnham, from For Writers Only