A family member recently commented to me that she would love to write. But she said it in a way that implied that ship had long sailed. We were both in the middle of taking care of kids on opposite ends of the phone so the conversation didn’t last long. But here’s what I should have told her. And here’s what I’d tell anyone when the creative bug bites.
A few years ago I decided I was going to make writing a priority. I’d found outlets here and there for this creative drive, but I wanted to give it a bigger role in my life. I sat down in front of the computer screen. Kids were in bed, the husband was out of town. There were no excuses, no distractions. My opportunity wasn’t going to get any better than this.
I typed. I blushed at the insipid sentence. I deleted. And then I stared at the glowing screen. I tapped the keys, willing my fingers to put words on the page. And then it came to me.
I had no idea what I was doing.
The desire was there, but the skill was not. I remembered reading something once that Dave Ramsey said about making money. If you want to make money, it only makes sense to study and learn from those who are good at it. I figured the same philosophy must hold true for writing.
So I read books on the craft. And I read blogs. I talk to people who write. I take the experiences and wisdom of others and find what works for me. One of the things I love about writing is that writers are not in competition with each other. Have you ever met a reader who says, “Sorry, I’ve filled my quota for life and I’m done reading?” Of course not! And so we learn from each other and encourage each other and celebrate when the words come together to form something meaningful.
Here are some crucial ideas that allowed me to finally put words on the page:
- You don’t need anyone’s permission to start writing. There isn’t some writing committee that monitors these things. You don’t have to apply for permits or fill out an application and wait for approval. If the desire is there then do it.
- Just write. Don’t wait for your wording to be perfect. Because it won’t be. In fact, expect it to be garbage. This was a liberating thing for me to discover. Once I accepted this, the words just flew onto the page. Perfection can be paralizing.
- Rewrite and rewrite and rewrite some more. This is where you fix the garbage you spew out. And sometimes you turn it into something good!
What do you do when the creative bug bites? I’d love to hear in the comments!
When the bug bites me I’m ashamed to say I usually feel fear at the thought of failure. I’ll try to have courage to love whatever I create, no matter how loveable it is to anyone else!
Emily, I know what you mean! I read something once that suggested we are critical of our own work because our standards are so high. So that’s a good thing, right? But I know how good it feels to just let go of that expectation of perfection and to just create. The act of creating reminds us we have souls, even if it’s a challenge to love the end product. You could even argue the act of creating is the end product!
You’re awesome. Literally, I am in awe.
If I actually get the words onto paper/computer, then there’s a sense of permanence. What if my posterity reads it? What if they don’t approve? Why should I care? I’ll probably be dead by then, right? Augh!
How do you deal with feeling creative and then instead of feeling insecure or inferior you just feel…lazy? Whether it’s writing or something else, I feel like I have to force myself sometimes just because it’s hard! Like knowing you should work out because it’s good for your physical and mental well-being but watching TV instead… Maybe I’m the only person with that problem!
Cathryn, I love the comparison to physical exercise. Because sometimes it feels like that! I’m mulling some thoughts over. But they are too big to do as just a comment. So I’m working on another post. Thanks for the inspiration!