As I lazily rolled out of bed in a slightly dazed and confused mental state, I picked up my phone to look at the date of my last post. Almost three weeks ago. Disgusted, a familiar and annoying voice from inside begins to speak. Every morning I wake up, I have the same thought. “Am I going to be able to write anything today?” More often than not, the answer is, “I hope so.” Being a writer is one part writing and three parts “you need to go the computer so you can actually write something.” It’s a never-ending struggle. There’s an irony of me once saying writing is something that can set me free while feeling trapped by the pressure to produce content I deem worth reading.
Writing is hard work.
When inspired, words seemingly flow directly from my brain to my fingertips and my hands take on a life of their own. This is like being in the zone while playing a sport. Words come easy, paragraphs replace empty space in Google Docs, and what was once a blank slate turns into well-executed thoughts and ideas. There are few things that compare to the feeling of hitting “publish” on a WordPress post, allowing me to sit back with the satisfaction that whatever it was I was thinking translated in the exact manner I thought it would onscreen. The page views increase, comments are soon to follow, tweets of “that was a good/great/excellent/fantastic read” hit my mentions and the likes on Facebook rise faster than my electric bill in the middle of winter. Yes. Writing can be fucking awesome when it goes the way I want it.
But, writing is hard work.
Days like the ones I described can be fleeting. Often, I sit at my computer aimlessly pounding away at keys and looking toward the sky as if some divine being is going to stop participating in the wonders of life to drop down and gift me with an idea worth transcribing. There’s a certain discipline (which I lack) needed when creating any art (and believe me, good writing is very much an art) and writing is no different. Millions of dollars have been generated by those who know how to navigate the troubled waters of writer’s block. Whether it’s through a book that tells people how to quiet the resistance that prevents them from writing, or a book full of exercises on how free writing (writing without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic) can help overcome writer’s block, there are dollars to be made by capitalizing on a writer’s inability to type anything of substance.
After speaking with my peers engaged in this form of art, I’ve come to the conclusion that many writers are insecure about their work. Undoubtedly, anything that is produced for public consumption has its own pressures, but writing seems to be unique in that most do battle with themselves more than anything else. Feelings of “is this good enough and will people like it?” to a more melancholy thought of “ain’t nobody gon read this shit” tend to be the most frequent roadblocks of my goal from thoughts to publishing. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how little respect writers seem to garner from the peanut gallery with respect to their work. There’s very much an attitude of “what you write is shit and I can do a much better job of writing than you can.” For a moment, we’ll pass over the irony of someone who took the time to read something (or as it so frequently works, a person who’s somehow read almost everything you’ve written despite their proclamations of a lack of quality) to criticize the work and consider them to be an occupational hazard. Writing has a very low barrier to entry and when people think they can do your job, they tend to respect it (and you) just a little bit less. Such is life.
Feelings of “is this good enough and will people like it?” to a more melancholy thought of “ain’t nobody gon read this shit” tend to be the most frequent roadblocks of my goal from thoughts to publishing.
Dealing with my own insecurities has occasionally caused me to look with envy at those who are able to produce content on a regular basis. I’m often saddled with thoughts of “how in the hell do you manage to feed the beast of consistently producing content?” Admittedly, that envy turns to jealousy on its best days and an unsettling feeling of anger on its worst. The anger is doubled once I’ve seen someone I believe to be less talented with their words, receive the same accolades I’d like to achieve. Nevermind where I’ve been published, how many essays I’ve written, the book I released, or the fiction story that many people liked. All of that is irrelevant. My thoughts are directed to the people who are able to create pieces out of thin air and are handsomely paid in comments and dollars for constructing essays which range from low quality to absolute shit. People I’ve deemed undeserving of said accolades receiving praise for their when to be quite frank, I hardly ever see what the fucking fuss is about.
Fury at less-than-talented people receiving credit for poor work aside, I love to write. For however long it takes me to finish a post, it’s one of the few situations where I’m in complete control from the time an idea is born until its subsequent publishing. I can write something, change it, edit it, tweak it, move things and create something that has the ability to make someone completely change the way the look at something. It lets me open minds, doors, tap into emotions, and in some cases, improve people’s lives. Knowing my words are powerful enough to make a difference is motivation to make sure this art form will be a part of my life until God sees fit to take me off this planet.
But the fact remains.
Writing is hard work.