I wish I could describe a day in my writing life as an overall positive experience; however, I can’t even truly describe it as a day. A day in my writing life can actually take several days or even weeks to feel like a day’s worth of writing. An essential, yet so often missing part, is inspiration. Sometimes, when I’m lucky, inspiration will come in, conveniently timed bursts that allow me to sit and work on an idea for an hour or two, maybe even a few, to get down everything I’m thinking and turn out something halfway decent and worthy of revision. More often than not I’ll find inspiration when I’m in class, at work, commuting, or otherwise incapable of doing much more than jotting down a few words or a sentence on my phone or in a notebook, convinced that later I’ll remember my thought process and intentions. This typically results in my squinting suspiciously at the words of my own creation several hours later, trying to place myself back in the moment or the mindset it seems like I need to be able to really write.
In truth, writing feels impossible. All of the time. It feels like a surprise whenever I do end up completing something. I struggle with the process. Even this blog post in my hands becomes something to overthink almost to the point of nonexistence. I make excuses, find so many reasons why I cannot write just now, there is so much other work to do, or pets to be played with, or friends to talk to or sleep to be caught up on, I don’t have my favorite pen, I can’t find my notebook with the sketch of a first draft, I can’t get comfortable, I can’t concentrate. And while the list of cant’s grows, the possibilities of what I can do shrinks to a speck.
As with so many things in my life, I search for tips, tricks, life hacks, ways to get myself writing, get words on the page, get over the distractions and the cant’s. The Internet is littered with little daily writing challenges and inspirational material, and teachers and peers are full of advice and stories of how they get themselves writing. There are little things that can sometimes help me, including writing by hand the first time, or at least, writing offline—a computer with a connection is Distraction City, always—or starting from a different perspective, a different angle, a different point in time. But these are not failsafe mechanisms. I’ve found there is really only one universal way. You just have to do it. You just have to write. Something, anything. There’s no trick, no hack, no challenge that’s going to make me write if I don’t make myself write. There is nothing that is going to make it easier, just like there is nothing at all holding me back except myself. Forcing myself to write when I feel empty of words might not produce any masterpieces, but it’s better than not producing anything. It’s a frustratingly simple truth that the answers are sometimes exactly what you’d expect them to be. Having work that’s not my best can set me down the road of making it my best, and if not, at the very least I might have learned something in the process. Writing, after all, is part of learning, about ourselves, about the people around us and the world that ticks around everything. It is learning, it is teaching, it is doing. The only way to write is to just write.
Macy Sego, Assistant Editor