I used to believe I did not have anything to say or add to the world – especially through the medium of writing. I think this was mainly due to my underlying belief that everything that needed to be written, had already been put to paper. I never excelled in English class. My grades were perpetually slightly above average. My effort was perpetually well below average. I never learned to write because I never took the time to put my butt in the seat long enough to actually create. That was the hardest part for me – patience.
I remember staring at a blank page and wanting to create… only for nothing to come. I would become bogged down with the overwhelming sense that any idea was possible. I would want to create novels out of nothing. I would want to do more. I would get angry when inspiration would not strike. I would step away having created nothing. I became disillusioned with the ideas of writing and creating.
I wrote on Monday that I planned to write something each day this week. So far that has happened. I am learning that inspiration is not something that strikes like I previously believed. I am remembering the words of writer Anne Lamott this week, “Butt in chair… write something today even if it sucks.” This week I have done nothing special. Rather, I have merely carved out the time and space to do the thing I usually complain that I don’t have time to do.
I think I, like a lot of us, wanted to be a virtuoso or something. I wanted my life to look like J.K. Rowling. The difference was that she spent innumerable hours actually honing her craft. I meagerly dream about the idea of mine. Thus, mine never became a craft. Mine lingered as an unfinished, untouched, unrefined pipe-dream with no hope of coming to pass.
So, I challenged myself to write this week.
In order to continually create, one must carve out the time in order to do so. I know this sounds obvious, but it must be stated. If there is no intentional time set aside, it will be impossible for any creation to come to pass. So, the younger me would stare at a blank page and want to write a 300-page novel in one instant. This was ignorance of course, but I think we treat a lot of life with this same mental process. The process that tells us, “if it does not happen now, then it is not worth it.”
This process of thinking has hindered me from going after a lot of things and growing into others. The idea that anything that is not immediately completed and much more important accepted must not be attempted. Because that would be failure. Failure is my biggest fear. I think this was why I gave subpar effort in school, that way if I failed I had a legitimate excuse, “I wasn’t trying anyway.”
Today, of course, this excuse makes me cringe. I loathe it more than any other. When I am in a self-deprecating mood, I will remember those times of half-effort and beat myself up about them. I will fully immerse myself in these memories and feel that deep shame that is reserved for our closest people. I intrinsically know that this is entirely unhelpful, but I do not care when I am that cycle of self-deprecation. I must believe I am not alone in this cycle. When that happens I look to a cheap out like Facebook or Twitter rather than addressing my core issue. I think this comic hits it on the head.
I am proud to say that this week I have spent almost no time concerned with “is it good enough” because of course it isn’t. That is why it is on a blog. But that is just the point, I no longer spend my time wishing I were J.K. Rowling. Rather, I am spending my time writing what I find important each day. I am offering my genuine thoughts to the world. For me, that is a huge deal. For me, that is growth. For me, that is today’s 300-page novel.
How do you create? What are you wanting to offer the world, but not carving out time for? What has the potential to breathe life into you, but rather it seems to breed self-deprecation and anger?
I hope you are having a great day.
Grace and Peace,