Day Twenty-One: A New Attitude

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Coming off of my impromptu holiday, I was feeling a bit stuck last night(and before that, honestly). There is nothing worse in writing than feeling stuck. Like you maybe have a great outline but for some reason the words are not there and it seems like a great deal of effort to try and write. Why bother, too? It’s not going to be any good even if you force yourself to sit down and do it.

So I wasted some time on the internet instead. I started this Zite thing which draws on articles from just about everywhere based on your interests and makes them into a magazine for you. I came across this article about why most writers fail to produce any work. All of it was very mental and offered pretty life-examining advice which was a bit, although true, wobbly for me.

I have a cousin who is a life coach. A wonderful life coach. She’s started her own business and is killing it. Every now and then she offers us some time or advice as if we are her clients. As a writer, it had always been relevant, but it wasn’t until I was reading that article that I realized how invaluable her guidance sometimes was.

I am so discouraged at writing. Already. Even though I’ve devoted my life to it, I’m already convinced I will fail. I look at works around me and think,

I am not new or original. I will never be as good as that. There are so many people to compete with…

I also don’t hear a lot of positivity in return… especially from myself. My mother called me the other day repeatedly, worrying about my health, yet the first sentence out of her mouth was, “Have you found a real job yet?”

I have failed at this if I allow myself to believe all of that. There is a lot of great work out there. Odds are my work will never be recognized or possibly even turned into an actual book. But the only real way I will fail at this is by giving up.

So I am not stuck anymore. Who cares if what I say isn’t very good? I am never going to be the best. Today I get to spend the entire day doing what makes me happy. The victory is not in the final result, but in the act of doing it. That’s the satisfying part for me. So… not to get overly positive and obnoxious, but…

Today I get to write and that’s a pretty great day.

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2 thoughts on “Day Twenty-One: A New Attitude

  1. I’ve had countless days where I’ve asked myself why I’m doing this. Why not just cash in? I’ve turned down job offers from Facebook and Google, both six figure gigs. I quit freelancing when I was already on pace to do $100k/yr. I worry all the time that people think I’m crazy for doing this.

    I guess I just know myself well. I won’t be happy doing that stuff. I wasn’t very happy freelancing though maybe I could have done it better. I’ve learned to just trust that, if I do it for long enough, I’ll eventually stop sucking at it and maybe be pretty good. Good enough to make some money to live. Then maybe one day, I’ll be really good and maybe people will ask how I got so good. “I just kept going”.

    One of my favorite quotes from Ira Glass:

    “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

    • I actually listened to a sound bite of that quote the night before writing this post. It’s a great one.

      I think I’m lucky to get to wake up and haul myself through the sometimes horrible process of writing. I could have done anything to make money, but writing always seemed more important. It wasn’t ever really a choice. I would have been a horrible dentist and whatnot. I’d give up everything I have to get to do what I do each day.

      You are truly talented, Rob. I look forward to seeing what you create next.

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