For the past month I’ve been in somewhat of a creative stall. Honestly, it’s probably been building up. I was able to write a couple of blog posts earlier this summer, but the frustration has been here for a while.
I’ve always had the urge to write. As a young kid I used to have these little creative bursts and sit down to my old white behemoth of a PC or with a pen and my flowered journal (that I still have) and crank out an impassioned poem or two, sometimes even several pages of work I imagined I would someday develop into my groundbreaking novel.
Why can’t I do that anymore?
Don’t get me wrong, I still have these urges – these feelings that whatever phrase or idea I just came up with is too great not to write down. I used to have one of those books that would list advice for young writers, and one of the tips it listed was “carry a notebook and a pen with you at all times.” This seemed incredibly dorky to me at the time (although now, at least if I did it at 19, it would probably be considered pretty hipster). Thankfully, today I have the luxury of the Notes app on my ever-present iPhone. While this is super convenient and great in a lot of ways, it’s probably also part of the problem. I love that I can save all this stuff I think of for later, but why later? What am I going to use it for later that I can’t use it for now, when I’m still in the middle of whatever train of thought created that phrase or idea in the first place?
Why do I feel like everything I write has to be some earth-shattering, ideal-challenging think piece I just happened to come up with while sitting in a Starbucks?
I have this thing where I feel like nothing I think I should write about is actually worth writing about. Yeah, probably doesn’t make sense. That’s why this whirlpool of a thought process is so frustrating and exhausting. This is why I can only seem to write when I’m forced to by a school assignment or when I challenge myself with something that actually has a deadline (thank you Maneater for squeezing some pretty okay stuff out of me this past year). But I don’t know if that’s good enough to get me where I want to be.
I used to be able to just sit down and start writing. Hell, I wrote half a short story when I was like 12 about a girl who’d Googled a news story about a car wreck, discovered she and her mom were the subjects, and was involved in that very car wreck the same afternoon. I wrote about that because I thought it was an insanely awesome idea. I never finished it because I couldn’t really come up with any believable reason the whole thing could’ve taken place, but it doesn’t matter. At least I started it.
It’s been over a month since I even wrote a blog post. And if I’m being honest, I was trying way too hard when I wrote it. Yes, the words are sincere and I really did feel the things I say I felt. But the whole time I was thinking about how intelligent and thoughtful it would make me seem. I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not thinking about that as I write this, too, but it’s different. With that post, I was still very much in the line of thinking that I’m trying to break out of as I write this post.
If I’m ever going to make any kind of career out of writing, whatever form the writing may take, I have to actually write. A lot. I know this. It’s what I struggle with most. I love to write, I do. Not only that, but it’s the thing I do in my life that has always given me the greatest sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. So much so that I feel like even if I never do anything incredibly noteworthy in my life that has to do with writing, I will at least take some comfort in the fact that I did what I loved and pursued what I felt was my calling. It sounds cheesy, but that’s how I feel.
Throughout my short life I’ve been told a lot of things like “you’re a natural writer” and “you’re gifted.” Whether or not those things are true, they scare the hell out of me. I’ve tortured myself more than once with the thought that maybe I’m just an incredibly average writer and I’ve put way too much stock into this. Do I actually even want to be a journalist? What does “journalist” really mean as a job title? Do the things I want to do in my life line up with the reality of this job? I think I know the answers to these questions, but who knows if I’ll even get a job after graduation?
I have an incredible friend I met fairly recently who has made known to me her deep admiration for my small body of work. She told me that it’s a privilege to feel things so deeply and that my work will be valued because of the way I think. I owe a lot of renewed confidence in my writing to her despite not completely believing what she says (sorry). Maybe it’s just because I’m 19 years old and still have some left over angst, but this summer I have felt overwhelmed by unknowns. Sure, there have been some good times the past couple of months, but they’ve also been marked by a lack of friends and too much time to think. I don’t even know what I did with a lot of that free time. I know that I spent some of it jealous that while I was trying to secure a minimum wage job, one of my best friends was starting an internship that would introduce her to what she considers her dream career.
No, I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I’m sorry, family and friends. I have an idea but I don’t know how to put it into words; it’s more of a feeling. That’s why I can’t choose my interest area or decide if I want to double major. But trust me when I say I’m working on it. I’m also working on getting back to being 12, when I could sit down and just write. Because it’s fun. Thankfully, I still feel the thrill of being mid-sentence and knowing whatever comes next will be good. I’ll keep writing until I don’t feel that anymore and probably even after.
If you got to the end of this post, congrats – you made it to the end of an after-midnight boredom-induced word vomit. I realize how melodramatic it probably read as, but it felt good to type it.