You’re probably wondering ‘What? Why?’
I’m a writer (Lol. Yes I found the need to reiterate that fact, again). When I write, this is what’s going on in my head.
‘Must write the story.’
‘Must make it good.’
‘Must make sense. If not…!’ (Shakes fist at self).
‘Must make it so people find it interesting and want to read all the way to the end.’
‘Must also enjoy the process of writing.’
Basically, it’s a long list of ‘must this’ and ‘must that’ and in between all this ‘must’ business, something else lurks, sinister and tapping your shoulder (left or right, you choose) very faintly. You and I know what that is. Yes we do!
It’s bloody ‘Doubt’ is what that is, sitting on my shoulder like a tinny tiny devil that threatens to derail my resolve to complete the list of ‘Musts’.
But I swat the little pest on most days as if it were a pesky fly buzzing around my head while I’m trying to focus, and most days it is just that, a pest. However, other days, it gets to me. That little voice manages to cause me to put down my pen and question what I’m writing, sometimes it’s targeting just the day’s writing, other days it’s firing an avalanche of shrapnel at the entire project in the hope that it (and I) lay on the floor in a useless heap. Don’t let it do that. Whatever you do, don’t let it do that!
It happened to me once. I let the devil in, the doubt in, and found myself incapable if writing anything else or even attempt to write for a very, very long time. It was a long road of inner struggle, long journey in seeing if I could really live without it. Well, I’ve found out I cannot.
So what got me going again? Surprise! I surprised myself. One day, out of nostalgia, I succumbed to reading my old works, something I knew I had written but had never detached myself from its words. Upon reading some of my own works I was simply astounded that they were mine. That I was capable of telling someone’s heartfelt story, or writing candidly of someone’s memory, or how much meaning someone else put into their work and family.
I emerged utterly surprised that those strings of words were mine, ones that inspired me just as mush as they had inspired me to write them in the first place. So why ever did I stop? Because a pesky voice told me too? A voice that was nothing more than my own inner doubts?
And now, after that incident, I’m a firm believer of this one genuinely simple fact that I may be a writer, but I still need to surprise myself as a reader. If my work lacks that inner voice from going ‘Holy moly, did I write that?’ or ‘I didn’t know I could do that’ then that project is definitely not one I should pursue.
However, if it is something that excites and surprises me, then it’s one I should fight for. So if you ever find yourself at a crossroads and feel like you need to choose, I say keep going straight, you’re bound to come up to another crossroad when you are able and ready. And in the mean time, be your own reader. If your can’t sustain your own attention then there is a chance you cannot sustain another’s.
Don’t be afraid. Take a breather when you need it, and let your own work surprise you and show you a way back on the road. It’s a wonderful experience to have gone through nonetheless. Be surprised by your own words. Find your little ray of light and walk through. I dare you!
(Image courtesy of madpoet_one on Flicker: http://www.flickr.com/photos/madpoet_one/7842135738/)