Sometimes to be Great at Writing You Have to Suck at it Too

Today I was watching one of my favorite YouTube series, The What’s Underneath Project, which is a mother daughter project that interviews many people, usually women and usually artists, about what makes them themselves. During the interview the guests take off their clothes, an article per question. The interviews begin with questions about style and what the subject thinks other people think of them based on their style and then ends with the same question, “why is your body a good place to be?” The project is aimed at body positivity and does its best to include people of all body shapes and ethnicity, though sometimes I feel that they get more interviews from people who are more “in shape” just because of the nature of the interviews. Well the interview I watched today was not from one of my favorite artists, she stars on HBOs Girls which is a very white and middle to upper class show. Though I watch the damn show I know that it is not representative of many people and that bothers me. Anyway, so Jemima Kirke was interviewed and I found something she said to be very inspiring, though I don’t think it was meant to be.

Of her own art and her struggles with artistic self-pressure she said, “It’s resistance and ego, which are the same thing, like everything I make is gonna be great or has to be great, like who are you that you are so special and great that you don’t have to do shitty work and practice and get on the floor and make things that no one cares about and throw them out.”

I know this sounds pretty negative and not really helpful, but I found this to be incredibly helpful because I often have such a hard FUCKING time getting my pen onto paper. Like I’m sorry but I want to be a writer with all my might, except sometimes the might it takes me to think of something to write. People close to me know that I put an incredible amount of pressure on myself to succeed as a writer and what they probably don’t know is that some of the times this is coming from beating myself up and from seeing myself as great, as special and trying to absolutely fit this persona. And so, I’m a slow writer. I know, logically, that I’m allowed to write things that are not great and I would definitely remind any of you that you don’t need to be great now or this morning before breakfast or tonight before bed or in a field or listening to ambient music. You need to be practicing. And I think that I come back to this realization time and time again, this time through the words of a successful actress and artist. I’ve actually had professors who have their class read an essay about the “shitty first draft” and remind their students that good writing comes from practice, but today I just kind of needed this reminder and wondered if any of you also needed it.

So long story short, this semester I’m daring myself, yet again, to suck at writing so I can get better and I’m letting my ego deal with it.

PLEASE: If anyone does respond to this post I think it would be most constructive to write a love note about your writing or creative insight. You should think about the times you felt you sucked and also think to yourself that it’s okay and you were just practicing and every time you write you are getting closer and closer to yourself and honing your craft. But don’t write that part down, that’s for you! Cherish it! Unless you feel super comfortable. I want this to really come from a place of self-love because you are all great! <3

Here is the vid.

2 Replies to “Sometimes to be Great at Writing You Have to Suck at it Too”

  1. Hi Gabi!
    I. LOVE. GIRLS. I know it’s kind of controversial based on different opinions of Lena Dunham, but I freaking love it.
    I actually follow Jemima Kirke on Twitter and the other day she tweeted: “La la land is cute. If it’s 1933. We have to be more evolved storytellers than this. Literally a nap would be more productive.” I “lol”ed at this while hitting the “retweet” button, but I actually didn’t see “La la land”. My idea of it was mixed from my mother’s perspective and that of the media. My mom said it was really slow and boring. The media raved about how amazing and wonderful it was, and how the picture received all kinds of awards. I think what I’m getting to is that sometimes we think we’ve created the best thing the world has ever seen, and it’s actually shit. Or sometimes we think we write shit, but others find it amazing. So how do we determine what’s worth watching, or, in this case, reading? Everyone has their own opinions about what’s good and what isn’t. So how do we know?!

    This also brings up the conversation regarding whether or not good art needs to be productive, and what is this productivity? I think all art is productive somehow. What do you think?

    P.S. love note for myself–my attention to sound. 🙂


  2. I just wrote a blog post about the confusingness of knowing whether a poem sucks or not…without even reading this!
    Girl, I get you. *Virtual fist pump and collective sighing ensues.*
    Especially with putting immense pressure on the self to create meaningful and extraordinary things…when sometimes, I can’t force good even if I tried. The ego is interesting because I have a hard time knowing if I’m too proud or too insecure or somewhere in the middle? It’s so annoying. How do I balance overconfidence with under-confidence? I wish there was some sort of way to measure it, like with an index or comparison chart or number system.
    love note to you and your honesty: admitting defeat and frustration is the first step to embracing creativity for all of its ugly-crying and messiness.
    keep writing 🙂

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