I suffer from a terrible condition.
I’m self-diagnosed, but the symptoms are obvious:
- Blank word documents make me antsy, but I know not with which to fill them.
- Ideas come to me fleetingly and then disappear before I can put pen to paper.
- My wit has become dull and my attention span has dwindled away to the point where I regularly catch myself opening two or three Facebook tabs in my browser at a time.
I’ve had writer’s block for eons. Not a literal eternity, but definitely an indefinitely long period of time. This prolonged stoppage on my creative flow has been beyond frustrating for me.
It really does suck to call yourself a creative and feel like you just can’t create anything.
How did I get to this point? I’m 23 years old (some might say “a millennial”), got a B.A. less than a year ago, and am in the midst of a quest for my first real, full-time, long-term employment opportunity.
My job search has led to much critical self-evaluation.
When I started the first of what became countless cover letters and regularly revision of my resume, I began to realize two things.
- In order to write these documents, I have to be able to talk about myself. I have to really know my strengths and play them up to potential employers, to prove that I’m worth their time. I have to define myself.
- I don’t really know how to define myself.
Since middle school, if anyone asked me to define myself I’ve used words like “writer,” “creative,” & “artist.” And it wasn’t as though I was lying – I really did consider myself a talented creative person, and I wanted to pursue writing for a living. That was really my entire career plan.
“I’m going to write.”
Recently though, the problem with telling people I’m a writer has been that, outside of writing pieces that I was assigned for work or for class, I wasn’t writing much at all. I haven’t written a song or a poem in over a year. It’s been even longer since I’ve written any kind of fictional prose, and I don’t blog or perform any kind of independent journalism (despite my degree in the field).
So I feel guilty. Like a sham. Like I’ve lost some defining part of myself. It’s becoming harder and harder to convince myself that there’s any scrap of a real writer left in me.
It’s not as though I haven’t tried to write recently. I have a journal in which I occasionally jot down notes or thoughts. Those thoughts are never fleshed out, though, and something in my brain says “no that’s stupid” and they’re lost to the universe just as quickly as they came into existence.
Lately though, I’ve begun to shift my mindset.
This morning, I was struck with a lightning bolt of confidence and inspiration. I’m a podcast enthusiast (digital audio is the wave of the future, dude) and I recently started listening to Jeff Goins’ The Portfolio Life. Real quick rundown, it’s a program in which writer Jeff Goins talks about how to accomplish things in life. This particular episode was a discussion of the benefits of writing every single day.
The analogy is this: Just like you have a workout routine, you need to have a writing routine. You need to stay in mental shape, to prime yourself to be able to write for longer and longer periods over time, and to sharpen your skill. This goes past writing though – it’s common sense that if you want to refine any ability, you work on it consistently.
And I can’t just expect to start magically cranking out good posts on day one. They’ll start stupid, and I’m sure I’ll think to myself (as I’m sort of thinking to myself right now) that they’re not good enough to post.
You’ll notice, however, that I posted this one anyway.
Crippling self-doubt: 0
So I’ve decided that I’m writing something new every day for a full year. But why in blog format?
I crave attention I would really appreciate your feedback. And I need you to keep me honest. Leave comments. Validate my existence. I’m begging you.
I would like for this blog to appeal to a wide audience. I intend to write about my daily life, adulthood, social issues, current events, my band, relationships, pop culture, art… who knows?
If you find you enjoy my writing, and you want my 2 cents on some particular topic that’s on your mind, then gimme a shout. I’ll tackle it as best I can.
The way I envision it now is that I’m going to wake up every morning with the intent of shouting into the digital void about whatever it is that’s on my mind.
Thanks for being here. See you tomorrow.