I consider myself a writer but how can I call myself one if I don’t write?
Outside of self-stroking journal entries and blog posts at my tech job, I do very little intentional writing. Nothing like the personal nonfiction essays I used to pen in school.
Can I truly be referred to as a writer?
The last “real” piece I wrote was Against Absolute Truth four years ago and even burst forth from fake flights of inspiration. Amphetamines encouraged run-on sentences that lacked substance. If I could even locate the work I wrote in school, I don’t know that it would make sense in my sober mind.
I keep expecting to be good at something that I never practice. While I might have an inherent knack for lacing words together, the result looks much like a plastic bead necklace created in a kindergarten arts and crafts class.
Perhaps I’m too hard on myself; I don’t know. It helps to be patient with the practice but that implies that any practice is being done in the first place. And it’s not.
Mental masturbation bound between grey covers hardly counts as writing. Margaret Atwood said, “Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice.” If there is no practice, my writing hasn’t the slightest chance of improving.
I’m incredibly marketing-minded at this point due to work but how can I market something that doesn’t exist? Rather than focusing on creating a widely-read blog, why not focus on the exercise of consistent writing? Documenting the process? Learning from mistakes? And allowing the small audience I have in on my imperfection?
My unshakeable quest for an unreachable perfection and this fear of looking stupid will kill me before I can kill myself. Everyone looks stupid at some point. But I’ll look a lot more stupid hooked to fluid drips on my deathbed as the reality of everything I could have been chokes the last breath from my chest.
Intentional practice. I’m not Anne Lamott. I’m not Joan Didion. I’m Elliott. But that doesn’t mean that what I have to say is any less important than that which Lamott and Didion contributed to the world.
Precise delivery will come with regular execution. Not before. Not a single writer sat down and wrote their best work during a first draft. Endless edits and countless revisions produce greatness, not some inherent ability to write the elusive perfect piece from the moment they placed words on the page.
Being kinder to myself will help, too. The self-deprecating internal monologue keeps me from starting before I even sit down. Blind refusal to accept myself as an imperfect human being among billions of other imperfect human beings will stunt my growth far more than the self-aggrandizing journal entries.
I wrote about this exact thing more than two months ago. I ended with, “Living in grey is beautiful when I open my eyes to shades other than black or white. And when I’m gentle with myself and my constant state of practice.” Then I have the audacity to sit here and berate myself for where I’m at in my practice.
how can i help i begged
my heart said
write the book
– Rupi Kaur
Be gentle with yourself, Elliott.
But please, for the love of God, just write.