1: Who do I think I am?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Nick: 1
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.

~ Nick

12 Replies to “1: Who do I think I am?”

  1. I love this idea. I can sooo relate because I’ve also always considered myself a writer, but it has been so long since I’ve produced anything I felt was valuable. I’lol be sure to be checking back in on your writing journey (:

  2. Wow I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a long time, I never thought about doing it as a blog!

    I often wonder some of the same things you’re wondering. Something I really like to do is to take myself back to really simple/fundamental areas of writing (when I have the time – which is part of the whole problem ha.) I’ll write about settings, places, people, sounds, smells, feelings, whatever. There doesn’t have to be a point, but oftentimes I find that I have one after I’ve started.

    Also, it’s hard not to let negative thoughts creep in, like what you’re writing isn’t good enough. BUT I think that those thoughts go against creative writing itself. You feel that your posts will start out stupid, compared to what? Famous works? Things you’ve read that impress you? That’s a roadblock you can’t afford to put in front of yourself!

    You can put words together in an infinite amount of ways. You have a unique perspective of reality and truth as a human. Some people will like what you have to say, some may not, but I’d encourage you to embrace both of those groups (as long as you don’t let anyone stop you from creating.)

    So anyways, I should probably get back to studying for Psycholinguistics, but my shout out/suggestion is that you write about a place you were recently. Best of luck!

    1. Yo Amy – I’m walking the fine line now of making time every day, but not turning this into a chore. I’m hopeful that it won’t become one.
      I love the idea of just focusing on a random setting or sensory input and seeing what comes out. I think I’ll give that a shot for some of these daily posts.

      Your encouragement is greatly appreciated – I think that there’s a healthy amount of fear that I need to allow myself to have in order to fuel creativity, and I’ll do what I can to keep it in check so that it doesn’t remain a hindrance. That’s a big part of what motivated me to start this project.

      Anyway, thanks for the feedback and the topic suggestion – I def intend to use it!

  3. I was bored waiting for my meeting to start, so I thought “what the hell? Let’s see what’s on my eldest nephews mind.” Great idea here, Nick. I’ve done similar things in art, like a create something new everyday, sketch, paint sculpt, even if it’s just an instagram photo. Constantly make. It’s really good for your mind and your soul. Good luck with your project!
    As for a suggestion: Maybe try writing a journalistic piece? Pick one specific topic and research the crap out of it for an hour or two, then report back. Our an interview with someone unexpected, like those “people of new York” pieces, but do it in Gettysburg.

    Cheers! – auntie molly

    1. Wow I love that idea! I actually think that in addition to thought-blogs and interviews, I’ll use this as a platform to feature photos, paintings, drawings, poems & songs. Writing daily seems doable, but potentially mundane, so I want to give myself the opportunity to do just what you’re saying – make daily.

      Thanks for the read! (so weird when relatives call me Nick haha).

  4. Best writing advice I’ve ever gotten: If you think you don’t have time to write, it’s because you don’t want to write as much as you want to do something else.

  5. But more applicable to your specific block, some advice from my most prolific writing instructor would be “It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be done.”

    This blog is a good start, but I’ll urge you not to get discouraged if you fall behind a little, particularly early on.

  6. at first read, this anecdote may seem a little dark.
    i, however, have come to understand the deep and abiding wisdom of it.
    so, as they say in recovery programs (also a surprison glycerin rich font of deep and abiding wisdom): take what is helpful to you now, and leave the rest behind…
    here ’tis:

    when I worked a job that included sales via cold calling, and i expressed frustration about the tedium and seeming futility of that method of finding clients.
    applied to writing (as with most other endeavors, really), my mentor replied, “marilyn, it’s a numbers game…you know you won’t get favorable replies from every call. accept, going in, that a very low percentage of calls will result in action. then just grind through the numbers. make the calls, get thru the daily list, and trust the process. you won’t get to the small percent of successful calls that yield actionable results, until you get through the majority of not-useful calls. look at it that way, and call knowing that any of them COULD be one of the good ones, so maintain your quality of presentation with each, and it’ll happen. and it will take much, much longer for you to become discouraged, knowing you’re working along the way, to achieve your goal.”
    even knowing the psychology behind it, which usually makes it backfire for me, it was very helpful to me, and i’ve applied it to a lot of different concepts in my work and personal life, ever since.
    writing everyday allows you to keep sharp, get down & recorded ideas or phrases or reasoning bits that may be useful later, AND gets you “churning the numbers,” to get to the gold sooner, rather than later, perhaps.

    best to you!

    1. Thanks for that – just a few days in, I’ve already encountered the difficulty of staying motivated and “trusting the process” – but I do trust it still, and I have faith that ultimately this will pay off for me.

      The wisdom is much appreciated! (:

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