Writing is hard. I sound whiney and this is something that we all already know--that is why so few people are writers. It’s damn hard. But I am beginning to find that this difficulty is self-imposed. We all can write. We’ve all written things that we are proud of, despite the plethora of things that we probably aren’t so proud of.
Anyway, as I was saying, the difficulty of writing is self-imposed. The difficulty of writing is not in writing, it is in writing well, and we--the writers--are our own harshest critics. We write a sentence, look back, hate it, try again, hate it, and so it goes. We end feeling dejected with something we just don’t even want to go back and edit because we hate it.
I’m as guilty as anybody, even writing this post, right here, I hate most of it and grow dissatisfied with each keystroke. In an effort to, I don’t want to say “heal” myself, but in an effort to get over this fear of writing poorly, I have been writing everyday without stopping. I write until I write five-hundred words or so and I do not stop. Sometimes the end result is repetitive gibberish, but so what, it doesn’t take very long when you don’t allow yourself to stop. I do this exercise every day, and I do it on a typewriter so I can’t delete and just have to keep forging ahead until my page is full.
When I’ve finished, I put the page in a manila folder and then into a drawer in my desk.
I leave the pages be.
Then, every Saturday, I review the writings of the previous week and I circle/highlight the things that I like. I copy them down into my “ideas journal” (I hate the way that sounds, but there is really no other way to describe what it is--being a journal full of ideas).
What I have found is this:
First, the collection of pages serves as a good recap of my life, week, how I feel, etc. It is interesting to me, at least. Second, there are some pretty damn good ideas in there when I just let myself go. Or at least I like to think so. Even just a phrase or a sentence can serve as a kernel from which something else can pop. Third, I feel more satisfied with myself. I have a tangible page of writing from each day, and I have a folder full of them. The folder may not contain my magnum opus, but I see it as practice. I am getting better. Even if 1% of what I write is good, if I see this through for a year (this year being a leap year) I will have 366 pages of stream-of-consciousness whatever-I-end-up-with and three and two thirds of those pages will be actual good writing. I like to think that more than one percent of what I write is at least “good.”
The way I see it, to use a very, very, very lame analogy. If I go to bat 366 times, I’ll definitely strike out a bunch, but I’ll also hit some singles, some doubles, triples, and even a couple home runs.