Just like in every post that I wrote, I am struggling in writing this post. Hence, every after writing something, I’m washed with mixed emotions- joy that I get to create something and dread because it doesn’t end there; there are still more ideas waiting to be written.
I started journalling five years ago and yet, I still struggle with writing. Author Dani Shapiro perfectly captures this feeling as she wrote in her book, Still Writing,
“When writers who are starting out ask me when it gets easier, my answer is never. It never gets easier. I don’t want to scare them, so rarely say more than that, but the truth is that if anything, it gets harder. The writing life isn’t just filled with predictable uncertainties but with the awareness that we are always starting over again. That everything we ever write will be flawed. We may have written one book, or many, but all we know— if we know anything at all—is how to write the book we’re writing. All novels are failures. Perfection itself would be a failure. All we can hope is the we will fail better. That we won’t succumb to the fear of the unknown. That we will not fall prey to the easy enchantments of repeating what may have worker in the past. I try to remember that the job — as well as the plight, and the unexpected joy — of the artist is to embrace uncertainly, to be sharpened and honed by it. To be birthed by it. Each time we come to the end of a piece of work, we have failed as we have leapt—spectacularly, brazenly—into the unknown.”
But I know my younger self wrote diligently on her journal not because she believed it will be easier in the future, but because she just wanted to write.
Right now, I struggle in writing probably more than how I felt five years ago. However, just like what Dani Shapiro wrote, when I’m struggling, I try to remember the joy of creating something, the joy of having my thoughts realized, and the clarity that comes when I started to jot down what’s troubling me.
Write, write, write and read, read, read
The last few days are when I felt like my brain was a desert.
I had a hard time stringing sentences together. I have no idea on how to angle the article that I was working on. I tried to sleep on it but when I woke up, I felt guilty because I haven’t finished writing the article. I still have no idea on how I’ll present the narrative of the person that I was featuring and yet, here I was, sleeping.
Stephen King advised, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut… If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”
I recently gave all my time in finishing requirements (end of the semester season) and this is the reason why my creative juices are frozen like a lake during winter; I stopped journaling and reading. My lack of input does not only affect how I write articles, it left me quite irritated, having trouble concentrating, and sleepy.
“Creativity reduces anxiety, depression, and stress… And it can also help you process trauma.” writes author and podcast host Ashley Stahl in Forbes, “Studies have found that writing helps people manage their negative emotions in a productive way, and painting or drawing helps people express trauma or experiences that they find too difficult to put in to words.”
My lack of activity in terms of my hobbies affected me psychologically and the people around me as well.
Fortunately, after hours of reading and writing, I’m more better. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a hard time writing like I wrote in the first paragraph. By reading and writing a lot, I had better flow of how the sentences in my article come tome together but that doesn’t mean that writing is not hard or that writing is labor.
Every day, no matter how many posts I’ve wrote in the past few days or months, when I face a blank piece of paper, I can feel that I am at the bottom of the mountain.
“Improvement is battle that must be fought anew each day.” writes James Clear in his 3-2-1 weekly newsletter, “You next workout doesn’t care how strong your last one was. Your next essay doesn’t care how popular your last one was… Your best effort, again.”
“So everything that I had worked before was useless, or irrelevant even?”
No. It wasn’t. I’ve written a lot in those five years and the fact that I still struggle with writing until now, doesn’t mean that what I did was all for nothing. As Jake Butcher puts it, “We all make forgettable things in the pursuit of making less forgettable things.”
To label which ones we make are forgettable or unforgettable is not up to us, because our job is to do the work. That’s it.
Austin Kleon wrote in his blog, “Bill Cunningham in Bill Cunningham New York, who gets up every day, gets on his bike, and takes pictures. Joan Rivers in Piece Of Work, who, right up until her death, was playing gig after gig. And Jiro, from Jiro Dreams of Sushi, who gets up everyday and makes the sushi.
These are the people I think we should be looking to for inspiration —
the people who every day of their lives, they get up do the work, regardless of success or failure.”
Whether what I create is a success or a failure, it is not within my hands anymore. I’ve done the work. I’m now going on to the next, which would take me again to the bottom of the mountain. Nevertheless, I enjoy the process of trekking up and down as much as I enjoy the feeling of being on the peak.