Writing and Self Value
December 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yay, finals are over! Back to blogging!
I am so glad I’m going to have more time to write now that I am on winter break. Now I can reintegrate my morning pages into my routine and work on some new pieces! Getting back into the swing of things after a considerable hiatus is always challenging. Often there’s something that keeps us from jumping right back in even though we know we love it, even though we know it makes us happy. That pesky something can keep us from writing for a few days, perhaps a week, or in my case, years.
When I was younger, I wrote constantly. I was always scribbling something, poems or short stories or sometimes entire manuscripts. As I got older my writing dwindled away, right around that awkward, painful adolescence period. I stopped writing regularly was when I was about 12 going on 13, alone and gawky and as confused as anyone on the verge of becoming a teenager. At the time it wasn’t a conscious decision; my mind simply wasn’t as free anymore. It was burdened by obsessive thoughts of not fitting in, my changing appearence, and finding out who I was. Pen didn’t connect as seamlessly to paper. Writing had always been natural to me, something I didn’t think about, something that just happened, something that had been praised by my teachers all throughout my academic life. And then suddenly, it was forgotten. What had long been my identity was lost. I went running full steam ahead down that path to nowhere, questioning my worth, my abilities, even my sanity. It would be awhile before I walked, tired and worn, back to where I was supposed to be.
I think these workless periods are a very important thing for writers to discuss. It’s not like you’re taking a vacation, a perfectly legitimate option for other professions. We write because it’s a passion. We write to understand ourselves in relation to the world outside. We write to understand others, to solve problems, or to never solve problems and just keep asking more questions. It might seem existential or over dramatic, but if you’re a writer, you know it’s all true. Taking a break from writing disconnects you from yourself. For me, that was most definitely the reason I stopped, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Simply put, I was afraid. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was afraid to dig deep inside, afraid to look. Writing meant facing the changing person within, and I couldn’t do it. I’m not going to call it cowardly; I’ll call it human. If I had actually sat myself down and forced myself to write, maybe things would have made more sense. Maybe they wouldn’t. Either way, it can’t be denied that I ran away.
No matter what reason we come up with, disregarding our art can always be traced back to one culprit: ourselves. As I’ve said before, writing is an intensely personal activity. You write down in your own words what you believe, what you wish was, the joys and pitfalls of the human experience and then in many instances, showcase it to the world. That requires quite some courage, so it’s only natural that we sometimes tend to back away from the challenge. Fear of failure is ultimately the fear of self-hate (I can’t take credit for that, I read it somewhere). We aren’t really worried what people will think; we are worried how what they think will shape the way we think of ourselves. I am well-aquainted with fear. I grapple with it in many areas of my life and in every instance in which it has won, I have paid the price. Fear suffocates writing. Don’t let it. Writing is your voice. Breathe. Be heard.
I know it may seem scary/ borderline terrifying, but you need to sit your butt down and write, write, write. “Morning pages”, writing three page stream of consciousness in the mornings, is a good way of getting past your inner critic. Don’t freak out over sentence flow or word choice. Just keep writing. Who cares if it’s a piece of crap? This isn’t going to be Pulitzer Prize stuff. This is for you. Write about how you feel like you can’t write. Unleash all that pent-up frustration on the page. It’s been said before, but some of the greatest stuff is borne out of pain. I find that often it’s not just the pain-it’s the frustration of pain not going away. Use it. I promise you your gift hasn’t gone away. It’s still there, but talent is nothing if you don’t pick up the pen.
I believe in you. Go do what you were meant to do.