This week has been another sort-of lazy week for me and I found myself thinking of all the things I haven’t done and should be doing that – for some bizarre reason – I thought I should be, as a writer.
I haven’t read a lot of the classics. Is my brain is starved of “intellectual” stimulation? Maybe I’ll fail as a writer because I’ve never read Dickens and therefore how can any of my own writing be good?
I haven’t done a creative writing course in years. And by “years”, I mean about six or seven of the little darlings. Will I suck because I have been actively working on improving my craft?
And then, the worst crime of all … I haven’t been writing. Pulling together some articles, blog posts, and writing some lessons for work – yes. But writing writing? No.
So I’ve been punishing myself all week. And you know how we creative types like to punish ourselves.
You’ll never be good enough. You call that “writing”? You’re wasting your time. You’re wasting everyone’s time.
Yeah. You know how it goes.
And so there has been a lot of reflection and self-talk of a different kind … my confession was met not only with support but also with confessions from others for not reading the “classics” and actually being OK with that. Sure, I haven’t read Madame Bovary but I’ve read scores of other novels that have had profound impact on the way I think, feel … and write.
In university I did every creative writing course available to me and a few extras run by local writing groups and visiting authors. Eventually I decided that I’d been to so many that no one was telling me anything new, and while I certainly haven’t mastered writing I like to think that I’ve got the theory covered and I just have to work on the practical side of things.
And the lack of writing … it’s partly because I’ve been mucking around with time-wasting websites, partly because I’ve been socialising and meeting new people, and partly because the ideas are coming to abrupt halts after the initial bout of inspiration. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s not writer’s block, it’s just a bit of sensory overload as I build my Singaporean home. I’ve been settled for a while and have felt very much at home for several weeks now, but I’m starting to need more homely things other than cushions and a good view – like friends and connections with other people. After all, a writer can’t write if they don’t experience the world.
My writing wish for you this week is for you to be kinder to yourself, to stop the voices of self-doubt and to accept that, however you choose to do it, you’re a writer. Accept that some weeks you’ll be gathering stories and other weeks you’ll be writing them. Instead of going off a list of what you think you should be doing as a writer, just be yourself … and write (when you can).
This post has also been cross-posted at Budding Writer’s League