What do I want to write about today?
What is it that makes me want to express my opinions today?
I don’t know. There’s got to be something. The other day, it was Pink Floyd. I was listening to The Dark Side Of The Moon that night, to relax and to fall asleep. What happened was, of course, quite the opposite. Anxiety ruled over my mental state for hours at a stretch, showing me how bad a decision I made. A few days ago, I wanted to write a poem. A poem with no rhyme scheme. I was talking to one of my friends, she mentioned the word “poetry” in a conversation and I felt a strong urge to write one.
There’s so many things I wanted to write about in the past few months. I switched on my laptop every single time and opened a blank document, ready to let my brain play around with words and write something that defines me as a person.
Yet, I didn’t write anything.
Why? Why did I not write anything in the past few months? I love writing. It is so much fun, it is so relaxing, it is a way for me to escape the world I live in and go to a world that I created. When it means so much to me, why did I not write?
I first started writing back when I was in 10th grade. I was a sad teenager going through a crisis. I wrote a lot back then. I put a pencil to my brain and then to the paper and scribbled words, hoping they would make some sense. Compared to the past year and a half, I wrote a lot back then. There was so much material in my mind to sort through and my poor book took all my furious scribbling. Eventually, all that scribbling ended up into something coherent and sensible, at least to me.
I ponder about that one year quite a few times. I hated that year, but it is always in my mind. But no matter how many times I ponder about it, I always somehow manage to leave out the efforts that I put in to write what I did. Every time. Until now. And now I understand why I have not been writing in the past year and a half.
As a 15 year old kid writing in a book with a pen, I couldn’t undo what I had written. Once the words were on the paper, they existed there. Always. Maybe they were written over, maybe they were struck through, or maybe they remained on the paper without any interference. The point is that they were there. The words had come out on paper and I couldn’t take them back. I could only work on making them better, I could only work on writing more and more words because I knew that there was no going back to square one once the words had been put on the paper.
That’s not the case now, is it? I have a laptop. This beautiful monster is where I write. Over the past year and a half, I have been increasingly afraid of letting the words flow. There’s a conflict I face now that I had not faced as a kid. The conflict between fear and desire.
I want to write to express myself. That’s a desire that I have had and I will always have. But, I am afraid of being mediocre. Afraid that my writing will be bad, that it will amount to nothing. This conflict is central to every writer’s block I have ever had. Every single time I backspace a word or a phrase or a sentence that I have written because it seemed like bad writing, my fear grows stronger. It gets bigger and fiercer, so much so that it overpowers my desire to write. My fear wins because I let it.
I believe this applies to everyone. I believe all us are afraid of mediocrity. We all hate bad writing. We all hate anything that doesn’t present itself as a product of the highest quality. We are all tuned to accept only the best and we’re tuned to point out the flaws in what we think doesn’t live up to a certain standard. That’s why we stop writing. That’s why we suffer from writer’s block. We start to look at our writing as a critic while we write. Every word we write from that point gets subjected to instant judgment. That’s not good.
To prove my point even further, think of a time when your creative juices were at their best. You churned out essays or books or poems like a magician. What was different back then? How were your works so goddamn good? The questions are rather easy to answer. You wrote something bad and made it better by reworking the whole thing. You didn’t judge what you wrote. You put your thoughts into words and then worked on making it better in many~ passes. When you were writing, you were a writer. When you were reworking the piece, you were a critic.
That is what I realized. I was a writer first, and a critic next. This disassociation helped me convert bad writing into something that reflected what I wanted to convey. The first draft will always suck. That’s the hard truth. Suck it up and finish it. The only thing that is to be achieved with a first draft is to have all the ideas expressed as words on the paper. Once the draft is done with, start being a critic. A cheap and a petty one. Hack the first draft, riddle it with criticism, and work on them one issue at a time.
Will the second draft be a work of art? The answer, in all probability, is a no. But it will be better than the first one. Reworking and restructuring your content will help in making it better. Keep hacking and reworking. Keep finding holes in the draft and fill them. After ten drafts or so, the initial draft that was a steaming pile of garbage will turn into something respectable. Maybe you’re not Michelangelo and maybe your work will not be as sound and beautiful as David but what you will have in your hands at that point is far better than what you started out with.
At that point you’ll realize that your desire had trumped your fear. If nothing, that’s a victory that you can draw infinite inspiration from.