Today it was hard to be a writer. I felt like a fraud and an idiot. I wrote and wrote and most of it looked awful. I couldn’t seem to get my thoughts together. I worried that nothing I was saying was interesting or original and that I was becoming boring and repetitive. Today is November 1, the beginning of National Novel Writing Month or, NaNoWriMo. In this process, one is expected to write a 50,000-word novel in one month. That’s about 1,667 words a day. Currently I write about 1,000 a day, between my journal and my blogs. Today I wrote more because it’s Saturday, but it was, with my blog at least, tortuous. I felt frustrated and foolish and I wondered how I could ever write a novel or do anything of lasting importance.
Still, in the end, everything turned out fine. Today felt like I had had a fight with someone I love. It was unpleasant and painful at the time, but it was also cathartic, productive, and even instructive. So what did I learn?
First, I learned that all I need to do is write. I don’t have to publish. I don’t have to show it to everyone or anyone. I can delete it all if I want to. I’m only supposed to write. Do I want to publish? Of course. But the point is to write. As I do, I will know whether it’s worth publishing or not. Most of the time I do publish. This will be 752nd blog. So if once in a while I don’t publish anything, it’s fine. As long as I’ve written something that day, then I’ve done my work.
The next thing I’ve learned is that sometimes this is just hard. Sometimes things are just hard. You can have a fight with someone you love or have a bad day at a good job. These things happen. In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says the professional knows how to be miserable. I don’t want to be miserable, but I don’t want to give up if I am miserable either. I’m committed to this permanently, including the times when it gets hard.
Finally I learned that I can always go back to anything I’ve written and rewrite it, delete it, or leave it alone. I’ve written things that I initially loved and then felt embarrassed by later. And I’ve written things I wasn’t crazy about (though I didn’t usually publish them) only to decide later that they weren’t so bad or only needed a little improvement. The important thing is to write. That’s it.
So that’s what I’ve done. I didn’t give up. I Got Started and I Kept Going. Tonight I will review the other work I’ve done and decide whether to move forward with it or delete it. But for now, I’ve done my work.