I’ve read many books, articles, quotes lauding the tenet that to become a great writer, you just need to write, and write frequently. Just write everyday. I knew deep down this was true but I was terrified of the idea of that kind of discipline and constant emotional exposure to whatever came out of me and on to paper or screen.
I’ve changed my tune.
I’m now better equipped to tolerate the constant emotional adventure that is writing. I’m also now better equipped to tolerate becoming a self-discipline writer. I say tolerate because it is naturally very hard for most of us to consistently work hard on a specific thing without getting distracted or losing the initial excitement and energy of the project.
I am better equipped to write everyday because I trust myself. I hadn’t for most of my life. But these days, I do.
You must trust yourself at least a little to believe that your goal, your dream, your project is worth the pain of the journey. click to tweet
You must trust yourself at least a little to believe that your goal, your dream, your project is worth the pain of the journey.
I noticed a change in how I approach writing. Before, I used to start and stop a lot. I’d start with an idea, a sentence, an epiphany, a quote, whatever. And I’d write around it. I’d write about the idea, the sentence, the epiphany, the quote, the whatever. Then i’d get stuck.
Over the past few months, actively learning, reading and writing to better my skills as a writer, I noticed that the idea, the quote, etc, is rarely the focus or purpose of what I am trying to say. Somewhere much further along the page or screen, that kernel of truth, that thing that I meant to reveal comes out in an “aha, there you are!” moment.
So, to “just write” means to just write until what you really want to say becomes obvious. Even when you think you know what you’re writing about, as your researching, thinking, writing, and editing, the theme of your piece can change and often does. It almost always has with me so far.
I see now the reason I would start and stop is because I forced the piece to go in a direction that wasn’t natural. I forced the piece to go where it didn’t want to, but I felt I had to because that’s how I started. As I became more mindful of how I approached an article or even a poem, this unnatural way of forcing an idea became more obvious.
To “just write” also means to write into your piece, not around the idea that inspired it. Let it become whatever it will become. It’s like when you start any creative project–a painting, a piece of music, a sewing project, and so forth–with an idea. The outcome almost always differs from what you believed or planned in the beginning. It looks different and you feel different about it than at the beginning. The journey has changed the project and your experience of the project.
As writers, we must change, we must adapt and sync with the flow of a piece rather than leading it where it does not want to go. We must allow the journey to unfold. We must, just write!