I struggle with a lot of things when it comes to writing. Finances, ideas, stamina. Should I quit my job at this coffee shop, or is it what motivates me to write? But I think one of the main things I struggle with is somewhat of an existential crisis, mainly, “What is the POINT?”
I recently started a job at a bookstore (which I love) and I quickly learned that everyone I work with is a writer, studying to be a writer, graduated undergrad with a degree in Creative Writing, etc. In these moments I struggle to be a writer because everyone's a writer and what's the difference, really? Is there a need for my writing? If everyone is a writer, is anyone REALLY a writer? I don't have a book deal, I've been published, but just in some smaller literary journals, overall my audience is very small. Who am I writing to? Am I shouting into a void only to have that void echo back that there are hundreds, if not thousands of others just like me?
In moments when my thoughts spiral downward this way I've realized that it's important to stop and reaffirm myself as an individual and a writer. I assume that others have this thought process at times—especially if you are a newer writer, definitely if you have yet to get published or have faced a particularly long stream of rejections. We all face doubts and sometimes it can be difficult to stop questioning yourself and the worth of your writing. So here are some of the things I tell myself when I start down that self-destructive road. I like to say them like a mantra, one right after another.
1. I am a writer.
2. No one else is me, and that's why my writing matters.
3. Everyone's voice is valid. The more writers there are the better.
4. Each person has a unique life and perspective and this is all we can offer each other, but it's important to share these life experiences in any way that you can.
5. If I stopped writing or stopped trying to share my writing I'd be considerably less happy.
6. If one person reads my stories and is moved, I have succeeded more than I ever thought possible.
It can be a battle to insist that your writing and persepectives on life are worth anyone else's time. Especially when it seems that there are enough people out there who share in your struggle to be a writer. But that's all it is—a shared struggle. It's not a reason to stop trying.