And I felt so angry from reading that because I related to it in so many ways. A billion ideas in my head: every minute of everyday about just about everything. I have that. And honestly the ideas, the ideas themselves, can be just as creative, interesting and story worthy. But I always, always shut myself down before I can write them.
That inner critic of mine is like a God with a huge, booming voice that’s raining down judgment on all of my fragile little ideas. And unlike Noah, I don’t have an arc. So all my tiny little (possibly brilliant) ideas drown as I conclude that it has been done, that it is stupid, that there is no way I could possibly execute it well enough because I don’t have the talent.
It’s a full-blown superiority complex- the belief that every other writer is better than me, more innately talented, more educated about the process of writing and therefore more able to translate their ideas into these amazing pieces I read every Friday. And I try to console myself by saying that I’m just not a writer like they are- I’m just not meant to write. But I still have all those ideas.
It’s my own form of OCD. I obsess about writing thinking that I should write, that I need to write, that that brilliant idea I just had needs to be written. I feel compulsed to write. So I do. And then, inevitably, the story is not good enough. That brilliant idea is now a crappy piece of writing nowhere near as amazing as it seemed when it was still just in my head. And I feel horrible; I hate myself, I hate writing, I hate everything. So I close my computer in disgust. And sometimes this leads me to withdraw completely from everything- I stop reading the new flash Friday pieces, I stop reading John’s blog or any of the others I follow, I avoid twitter and even my computer for sometimes weeks or even months at a time.
But the obsessions build, the compulsion to write grows, I feel guilty for having not written for so long. So I do. And the process repeats itself.
But here’s the thing- and here what John’s post reveled to me- those ideas are still ideas. They’re not stupid, or over-done, or any of the others things I may conclude they are. The only difference is that John and Tony and Icy and Chuck and Adam and Danielle and Helen and all those other amazing writers WRITE. That’s it. It isn’t a gift from the Gods, or a muse that has chosen to gift them with brilliant insights on a regular basis, or intelligence so far superior to mine that my feeble little mind can’t even comprehend it. It’s the simple act of writing. And if I wrote my ideas like they do, I could be just as good as I think they are. Not to myself, obviously. But to someone else reading my blog. (I know, I know- you’re thinking “Haven’t you been told this since the dawn of time?” But that’s how insight works- you have to get it the hard way.)
My favorite band in the world is Ben Folds Five. Do you know them? If not, you absolutely MUST watch this:
Yes, that is Red sitting on Ben Folds' shoulder.
That song is from their new reunion album and it’s one of my favorite songs they’ve ever done (And I got to see them do it live *sqee!*). And I’m sure you can see why it relates.
Because if I can write that idea down, and if I can hold back the deluge of judgment just long enough to hit the post button- people tend to like what I wrote. Even if it isn’t that brilliant, sparkling, wonderful idea it had been in my head. It’s still ok. Maybe even good. Maybe even great on very rare occasions. And because it exists- because I didn’t drown it in criticism- I’m better off for it. Do it anyway. That’s what’s been working for me lately.
So, towards that end, I’m making a determined effort to expose myself more. Expose my writing more, expose myself to more writing prompts, get connected to other writers and other writing communities. And so here I am, writing about writing for #amwriting. And it is my hope that by letting the world in on my madness I’ll see how right I am by seeing that you all relate to what I’ve shared. Because lately I’ve been realizing how not alone I am in this struggle, and it’s felt really good.