Getting out of your own way–

Last night, I sat down to write something for another class. I stared at a blank document on my screen for about 15 minutes before letting out a frustrating sigh, and closing the laptop down entirely. The ever so familiar phrases began in my head while I got up to make a cup of tea: “I can’t think of anything to write because I don’t think I’m good enough to write. I will never be as good as the writers who have come before me. I have nothing in my brain that is worth writing down.” The tea kettle started screeching, and the chain of thought broke. I could feel the cloud of defeat stretching over me.

This assignment that I needed to finish was due the very next day; there was no way around it. I had to write. I opened the laptop again, and groaned. My partner came over, and sat down next to me.

“Is everything okay?” he asked. It had been a stressful weekend, and he knew I was struggling.

“I feel nothing. I don’t have anything that is going to be good enough for this assignment.” I said, sipping on the tea, and basking in the laptop light. I explained the assignment to him, and he looked at me and smiled.

“I don’t know anything about the literary world, but I do know that you’re stuck for a very simple reason.”

“What reason is that?” I asked in an irritated tone. I did not want a lesson, I wanted an answer.

“You’re literally standing in your own way. Cut out the bullshit of other people’s ideas, stop thinking about the process of writing, and just look. Look at this as an opportunity, not as an obligation. Stand up, and let yourself in. You’re blocking what you really want.”

I do this thing where I focus on the writing process, and not the writing itself. I stare into the abyss, thinking of the perfect piece, and then I get stage fright. I talk myself into thinking that any idea I have has either been done before, or will be done better in the future. Then I enter into a never ending feedback loop of bad thoughts, and I accomplish nothing.

This may seem like a very cliche piece, but I thought I’d share it with this blog to explain my fear; this fear of never making it in this world. But I’ve learned in the past 24 hours that nothing will EVER be written or produced in the same voice, because my voice is entirely my own. There’s only one of me, and that is something irreplaceable. Even writing this piece is giving me a sense of self doubt, but I’m here, still in the light of the laptop, persevering.

This post doesn’t really have anything to do about poetry, but this subject can be attached to any type of creative endeavor. If I were to look up resilience in the dictionary, I’d like to think I’d find a picture of a writer at a desk, cup of tea in hand, swimming in self doubt. But I know that writer would still have their head above water, somehow.

2 Replies to “Getting out of your own way–”

  1. ughhhhhhh same.

    I think one of the scariest things about being an artist is being afraid that I’ll just forget how to do my art (???)

    The biggest source of writer’s block is the fear that I’m not good enough, which makes my writing contrived and timid and watery.

    I think this post does pertain to poetry in a very real way, because with any piece of writing comes the intense fear that IT ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH AHHHHH!

    but hey, great writing starts with a big confident “IDGAF” (I’ll let you know when I get to that point).

    for now, be assured that self-doubt is a thing and it infects us all. It’s just a matter of how we react/respond to it!

  2. An anecdote:

    I sent this series of texts to my friend the other day, in the middle of writing a scene taking place in a car.

    4:47pm: is the whole area in front of the driver/passenger in a car called the dashboard or is that just the console with all the gauges and lights. whats in front of the passenger seat

    4:55pm: i need to know if theres a specific name for it. but i cant think of how to describe it besides ‘where i’m not supposed to prop up my feet on long car trips but do anyway’

    5:20pm: is it the console?? or is that the middle bit

    5:33pm: the surface above the glove box. this is important WHAT IS IT

    I then wasted approximately an hour on Google trying to figure out if there was a more specific term for the dashboard in front of the passenger seat (there isn’t), rather than just… writing the scene.

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